2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

61 corrected entries

(12 votes)

Corrected entry: When Dave Bowman is attempting to enter Discovery through the emergency airlock we see the smoke from the detonation of the explosive bolts on the door of the pod but where does the door go? The force of the explosion should have fired the pod door into the airlock along with Dave Bowman! An amazing feat and pure luck that Dave Bowman once in the airlock managed to close the airlock door with his eyes closed (not that you could use your eyes in a vacuum because the water on the surface of your eyes would boil off in an airless environment!) and he bounced off the back wall of said airlock and ended up near enough to the airlock door close lever to pull it.

Zippy Zubes

Correction: The door slams sideways into the cavity in the double wall designed to hold it. Hinged doors don't make much sense when you're in a cramped spacecraft. As for eyes being useless in a vacuum, tell that to Jim Leblanc, a NASA technician who was accidentally exposed to vacuum for 27 seconds during a space suit test in 1966. He reported a slight earache, a loss of his sense of taste, but no problems with his eyesight. In fact screenwriters Kubrick and Clarke based this scene on reports of a series of experiments on chimpanzees and dogs that proved that short term survival in a vacuum such as that experienced by Bowman is possible. As for him being lucky and bouncing back to a position where he could access the airlock door, yes, that was lucky. It wasn't a film mistake.

Corrected entry: When Dave is overflying Jupiter (on the left side of the screen, in the center), we see animals climbing up the hills. (02:10:42)


Correction: I just replayed this shot multiple times off my Blu-ray. I see nothing that looks remotely like "animals" climbing the mountain. 1) If there is something there, it requires freeze framing and/or zooming to see, therefore invalidating the error. 2) Considering the scale of the shot, I can't imagine anything smaller than a Brontosaurus being visible. 3) Dave is not flying over Jupiter. Jupiter is a gas giant with no solid surface. He has travelled through an interdimensional gateway. What do you think the eight minutes leading up to this shot were about?

Corrected entry: When Frank goes to retrieve the failing AE-35, he stops the pod hundreds of yards from the ship and floats his way to the ship. If I were doing this, I would park 10 feet from where I needed to go to avoid the possibility of missing my target and getting lost in space.


Correction: This isn't a mistake - it is you second guessing the film. What you would have done in Poole's place is irrelevant. We have no idea about the logistics of a maintenance mission carried out on a fictional space craft on its way to Jupiter - it has never happened and it is very likely it never will. Not knowing the reasons for Poole parking the pod where he did doesn't mean there isn't one.

I'm not second guessing the film, just the logistical decision Pool made. Makes no practical sense, filmmaking not withstanding.


Corrected entry: In the scene where we see the Moonbus landing at the Tycho Excavation Base, its descent engines raise dust that billows rather than falling in an arc straight back to the ground as would normally be the case in a vacuum. (00:50:35)


Correction: Previously posted and corrected. This is an accepted film technique, not a mistake. You cannot film in a vacuum.

Vacuum chambers certainly existed at the time. NASA tested Apollo spacecraft in them. It may have been difficult, but it certainly would have been feasible to film models in a vacuum at the time. Further, why should an "accepted film technique" forgive an obvious mistake in physics. If anything, it would be an intentional mistake if there was no way to simulate the effect of dust in a vacuum.


Correction: Dust particles will billow out in the manner we see if they have gas molecules to bounce off. Normally on the moon they have no such thing but in this case they do - the exhaust plume of the landing spacecraft. Until it slowly dissipates it will react with the dust molecules just like an atmosphere does.

Corrected entry: After HAL kills Poole we see his body cross paths in an X with the spinning away pod, as if they originated in two different locations.

Correction: Anything could have affected his trajectory and that of the pod, like a ruptured air line (we see him frantically trying to plug one back in) or he could have bounced off the hull or any of the structures on the Discovery.

Corrected entry: The transmission from Earth says that Discovery left three weeks previously, that transmissions take seven minutes and that the journey will take the better part of a year. The speed of light is 186,282 miles/sec. In seven minutes, light travels 78,238,440 miles so the movie statement that Discovery is 80,000,000 miles away from Earth is reasonable. To cover that distance in three weeks, the speed would be around 158,000 mph. To travel half a billion miles at that speed would take a mere nineteen weeks, not the better part of a year. (00:58:35)


Correction: It is absolutely clear from the reporter's intonation that he is asking Poole to speculate about what it is going to be like living with Bowman, HAL, etc. for a year - the travel to Jupiter and their lengthy mission time once they get there, and the time spent on the return leg.

To me it is not absolutely clear that the reporter is talking about the full mission but I agree that if the full mission is for one year than the statement is feasible. In my original post I estimate the speed of the spaceship Discovery to be about 158,000 mph which is 6.4 times the maximum speed of Apollo. The improvement of the drive engines of 6.4 times in 40 years is reaching a bit in my opinion. However the one year estimate could be feasible at 20 weeks to Jupiter and back and 12 weeks at Jupiter.


Corrected entry: During the base briefing all the participants are walking quickly as they would on Earth. This kind of motion is impossible in the lower moon gravity and it is made clear throughout the film that no artificial gravity technology exists that might allow Earth-normal movement. Later, at the monolith excavation site, the walking is slower and more deliberate as it should be.

Correction: This is an accepted film convention, not a mistake. Films like 'Red Planet' and 'Mission to Mars' were shot years after 2001 and had the advantage of much more advanced special effects techniques, but they didn't attempt to simulate Martian gravity. The same can be said of 'Pluto Nash', shot on a $100,000,000 budget and set on the moon but making no attempt to show the effects of lunar gravity.

Corrected entry: When Bowman blows the pod hatch and is ejected by the air into the ship's airlock, Newton's First Law dictates that the pod should move in the opposite direction, away from the ship.

Correction: Already posted and corrected - The pod would be weightless in outer space but it still has mass and inertia. The total change in momentum of Bowman and the air escaping from the pod, applied to a pod with about the mass of medium sized car, would result in the pod moving away at only about 50cm per second. That would be barely noticeable from our point of view, even if the change wasn't immediately corrected by an auto-pilot mechanism, which is feasible. We can calculate the reaction speed of the pod this way : assume a gas volume of 4 cubic metres, a mass for the pod of 2500 kg, a mass for Bowman of 150 kg, an average delta v of 100 m/s for the air in the pod, and a delta v of 10 m/s for Bowman - all of which yields a result of 0.5 m/s, and if air pressure in the pod were lower it would have moved even more slowly.

Corrected entry: When Bowman and Poole get into the pod they have HAL spin it around for seemingly no other reason than to allow HAL to read their lips through the window.

Correction: They are giving HAL random orders to make sure he is obeying them. They have no idea he is going to be able to read their lips through the porthole so it does not form part of their planning.

Corrected entry: The scene at the Tycho excavation site where the uncovered monolith emits a radio signal after being illuminated by the rising sun incorrectly shows the sun directly overhead. This would be impossible as the crater Tycho is in the moon's southern hemisphere and the sun would never rise that high during the lunar summer.

Correction: When is it ever specified that this scene takes place in the lunar summer?

Corrected entry: During a number of scenes showing the Discovery 1 from a fixed camera position, the stars are shown moving in the presumed opposite direction of the ship. But since the stars are so far away, there would be almost no movement over the entire trip to Jupiter. (01:30:00 - 02:30:00)

Correction: If the camera was moving slightly slower than the ship and panning with it, it would create exactly the effect shown.

Corrected entry: When all the apes are gathering around the big block at the beginning of the film, look carefully at the sky. The clouds never move, not even slowly. (00:11:55 - 00:13:55)


Correction: It's not that they NEVER move; they just don't appear to move within the few minutes we are watching, which is perfectly natural.


Corrected entry: There's a 'Floating Pen' on the PanAm shuttle when Dr. Floyd is sleeping. On the DVD, you can see the thread holding the pen when the camera quickly re-focuses from the stewardess to the pen. Just before the re-focus occurs, go to slo-mo and it's very obvious.


Correction: No it isn't, because a thread was not used. The pen was glued to a disc of glass which was slowly rotated, and a careful cut insterspersed when the stewardess plucks the pen out of the air.

Corrected entry: Dave Bowman parks the pod next to the emergency airlock and blows the door off by detonating the explosive bolts. Since the pod was full of air, the door ought to have been ejected into the airlock and become a rather hazardous projectile. But in the scene it's nowhere to be found. What became of it?

Correction: The explosive bolts are along one side of the door. It is blown sideways into the recess in the wall of the pod it is designed to close into during normal use. The fact that there was air inside the air lock makes absolutely no difference to this.

Corrected entry: When Dave is trapped in the pod outside the ship and has to go through the airlock, the solution is impossible (and a real astronaut would have known that). The change in pressure between the pod and the vacuum of space would cause the body to explode without a pressure suit (including the helmet, which was missing). Also, the absolute zero temperature of space would have frozen Dave solid before he ever got the Discovery's door closed.

Mark Bernhard

Correction: The suggestion that a human body would immediately explode in a vacuum is a common fallacy. Nor would they immediately freeze solid - heat does not transfer away from a body particularly quickly, even in a very cold environment. NASA estimates that a human being could survive exposure to space for thirty seconds without suffering any lasting injury, provided that they didn't try to hold their breath - something that Bowman, as an astronaut, would be well aware of. His actions are quite plausible.

Tailkinker Premium member

Corrected entry: When Bowman leaves Discovery to retrieve the AE-35 Unit, he asks HAL to prepare the "B Pod" and HAL powers up and rotates the middle of three pods. Later, when Bowman asks Poole to help him with a problematic transmitter in "C-pod", they go to the pod bay and enter the middle pod which must still be B-pod as no two pods have left the ship and returned to shuffle their positions. (01:12:30 - 01:22:40)


Correction: This could be a character mistake. And it makes sense in the context of the film. It's the exact kind of thing that would make HAL paranoid if Dave and Frank entered a different pod that they mentioned earlier. It's kind of a counterpart to HAL incorrectly identifying the sequence of moves to checkmate in the Chess game he was playing with Frank.


Corrected entry: When Frank Poole and HAL are playing chess, HAL states his move as (in what is called "Descriptive Notation") "Queen to Bishop Three". This is not true, the move he makes is "Queen to Bishop Six".

Correction: This mistake is intentional, meant for the astute viewer to notice that something isn't quite right with HAL.


Correction: While many viewers complained that the film was confusing and even boring, the critical reviews of "2001: A Space Odyssey" were mixed, with more than half praising Stanley Kubrick's monumental cinematic achievement as a landmark in filmmaking. Even the negative reviews acknowledged the movie's towering technical genius, while mainly deriding the flat dialogue, character development and puzzling final scenes. Negative reviews notwithstanding, the movie played continuously in theatres across the USA for over a hundred weeks straight and won numerous awards (including an Academy Award for visual effects, Bafta Awards for best cinematography, sound and art direction, and science fiction's Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation, among other awards) in 1969. Thus, it was far from being a "critical bomb," as asserted. Produced at a cost of $10.5 Million (a monster budget in the late 1960s and the most expensive movie Metro Goldwyn Mayer had ever produced up to that point), the film made back about $9 Million upon its release but went on to gross over $58 Million domestically and $12 Million internationally during its theatrical run, for a worldwide boxoffice of over $70 Million (or about seven times its production budget). Again, this was far from being the "financial bomb" you suggest.

Charles Austin Miller

Corrected entry: When Bowman is getting ready to leave Discovery to retrieve the allegedly-faulty AE-35 Unit, he instructs HAL to "open the pod doors (plural), HAL" when he should be well aware it has only one door. He is not asking HAL to open the pod bay doors. (01:12:40)


Correction: Each pod has two doors - an inner and an outer door.

Corrected entry: When Bowman rotates the handle of the emergency hatch on the Discovery, the pod should rotate. Without a grip on the Discovery to brace the pod, nothing would keep it from rotating. (01:42:20)


Correction: The designers of the Discovery and their pods obviously thought of this. They would have incorporated attitude jets on the pod itself or a counter rotating sleeve on the arm of the grip to balance the rotation.

2001: A Space Odyssey mistake picture

Continuity mistake: When Dave gets his supper, the order of the slop from right to left is yellow, light brown, light brown, dark brown. Later when he's eating, the order is yellow, orange brown, dark brown, light brown. (00:59:00 - 00:59:50)


More mistakes in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

More quotes from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Trivia: The leopard lying on a dead zebra was actually lying on a dead horse painted to look like a zebra. The cat wasn't too happy with that scene.

Larry Koehn

More trivia for 2001: A Space Odyssey

Question: Maybe I need to read the book, but can someone explain the whole ending sequence to me. Why all the flashy over dramatized pictures? It's artistic but is there some other meaning to it?


Chosen answer: All the flashing images are supposed to represent Bowman travelling past far and distant galaxies, this is what happens in the book, where he travels to that white house place.

troy fox

Answer: At the end, in the Arthur C. Clarke's story, both Dave Bowman and Frank Poole (who survived) went to a moon of Saturn to investigate the second Monolith. Dave Bowman tried to touch the Monolith with his space pod and was sucked into a wormhole that transported him to a star on the other side of the universe - at which point, Dave's last transmission is "My God, it's full of stars!" All of the "slit-scan" visual effects by Doug Trumbull (based on effects created by John Whitney years earlier) represent an almost instant voyage to the other side of the universe. Whether this is supposed to be a quantum-jump is not explained, but it's millions of times faster than anything ever depicted in Star Trek or other space fantasy knockoffs.

Charles Austin Miller

More questions & answers from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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