From filmmakers, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez come “Alita: Battle Angel,” an epic adventure of hope and empowerment.
When Alita awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido, a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.
We sat down Alita: Battle Angel director Robert Rodriguez, producer Jon Landau, and star Rosa Salazar to talk the story of Alita and what advice they would give to their younger selves.
The Knockturnal: At the core of the story, it’s about an 18-year-old figuring herself out. What kind of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self now?
Robert Rodriguez: I thought I knew it all back then. I remember at 17 I thought “I know everything.” That’s the thing, you feel like you know everything, ’cause you’re so naïve, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s like the best thing, because you can just go through life, and you probably do know everything you need to know to move ahead. As I’ve learned things over the years, I realize … it’s very frustrating to think “I wish I could go back and tell myself this,” ’cause you can’t. But I have children now, and I can go tell them, and I see them benefit from it. So it’s the closest thing to taking a time machine, is saying “Okay, well, I can’t benefit from this knowledge, but they can.” So that’s been really helpful. Keeps me from driving myself crazy, for sure.
Jon Landau: If you talk specifically about 18, it’s when I went to college. And suddenly I was a small little blip in a much, much bigger university than I had ever experienced before. And it begs that question that Alita begs, which is, am I just insignificant in this much vaster world than I ever imagined at a smaller high school that I had gone to? And you know, Alita hopefully will teach others that no, you’re not. You’re not insignificant. You are just as important and can make a difference just like anybody else can.
Rosa Salazar: Well, I went on that journey with Alita. She actually starts out more around 13, 14, and she spans almost her entire formative years or adolescence to 18. So I went on that journey in real life. I think if I could say anything to my 18-year-old self, I would just say “You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Believe in divine timing. You’re on the right track.”
The Knockturnal: What about Alita’s story did you guys identify with most? She goes on this really emotional journey. What about the story itself did you resonate most with?
Robert Rodriguez: I love that she’s someone who thinks she’s insignificant because of her background, that she doesn’t have much to offer, only to find that she actually possesses great power, which most people will discover at some point. But that she goes the extra step and realizes that it’s how she uses that power to try to better the world rather than damage it, is where she really becomes a hero.
Rosa Salazar: I like the journey inward. I think it’s also a great message for young girls and young boys and old girls and old boys. It’s the journey inward that teaches us everything we need to know. So I like that introspective aspect of Alita.
Jon Landau: And I like the story of the father-daughter relationship, where he at first wants to teach Alita what he thinks she should be. But ultimately he realizes he has to let her become who she is, and then he’s there to support that.
The film is now playing.