2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

61 corrected entries

(14 votes)

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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.

Corrected entry: When Dave Bowman blows the explosive bolts on the pod to get into the Discovery, he flies into the long airlock, then back out towards the exit. Watch the pod through both of these shots; it doesn't move a single centimeter when the bolts explode and is in the exact same position when Bowman's body heads back towards the exit. Even with the best possible maneuvering thrusters automatically set to hold the pod in place, it would have moved significantly when the explosive bolts were set off. One corrector proposed that the pod would be held in place because the mechanical arms used to open the airlock would have held it there. Incorrect; Bowman released the pod's grip on the discovery in order to turn it around. The same corrector proposed that the expolsion would not overcome the forward inertia of the Discovery. Wrong again, the pod and Discovery are traveling at the same speed; an explosive decompression would push the pod forward at great velocity.

BocaDavie Premium member

Correction: Not so. 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: HAL has complete control over the pods while they are outside the Discovery - he can even use one as a murder weapon. How, then, does he allow Bowman to steer a pod to the escape hatch? Why not just shoot him and the pod off into deep space?

Correction: This is a question, not a mistake. The pods obviously have a manual override.

BocaDavie Premium member

Corrected entry: Counter to a previous claim of factual error . In various scenes on both the Discovery spaceship and the Pod, angular momentum CAN be preserved without rotating the whole Discovery ship, as was claimed, if there were unseen counter-motions (as in a possible "sub floor" rotating in the opposite direction as the visible floor). The same principle can explain how the pod rotates without any visible thrust from, for example, gas jets. Rotation can be all mechanically achieved, with motors, and all angular momentum is preserved as the ship avoids appearing to rotate against the background stars. What we see is all plausibly accurate according to Newtonian Mechanics.

Correction: Good point, but this is a section for posting mistakes, not non-mistakes. If you are claiming that a previous post for a factual error is incorrect you would need to correct that submission, not post the correction as a mistake.

BocaDavie Premium member

Corrected entry: In the famous scene where the ape throws a bone into the sky, in one shot the bone at first revolves anti-clockwise and then in the next shot, just before the jump cut to the shot of the spaceship, it now revolves clockwise.

Correction: As the background changes dramatically, it's obvious this is shot from the other side.


Corrected entry: In the beginning of the film where we see the ape-men, it looks as if they are wearing Converse All-Star type gym shoes that have been painted to look like feet. Perhaps the rocky terrain was too hard on the costumed actors' feet.

Correction: No shot clearly indicates this suggestion. A more specific scene description or timecode is needed to verify this claim as the 'Dawn of Man" sequence is 20 minutes long.


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 little girl on the picture phone is director Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian. (00:27:50)

Larry Koehn

More trivia for 2001: A Space Odyssey

Question: I don't understand the significance of the monolith or the starbaby. Can someone explain it to me?

Answer: As author Arthur C. Clarke explained it, the first Monolith (the one seen at the beginning of the film and then buried on the Moon) was a space probe from an incomprehensibly more advanced alien intelligence that resided inside a star elsewhere in the cosmos. The Monolith's objective was to seek out lifeforms that had potential and "tweak" their neural evolution, causing them to evolve toward intelligence. In the case of Mankind on Earth, once the modification was made, the Monolith probe retreated to the Moon and waited 4 million years for Mankind to reach it. When Mankind reached the Moon, the Monolith sent a signal to the next phase of the experiment, which was another Monolith in orbit of Jupiter. When Mankind reached the Jupiter Monolith in a matter of months, the Monolith acted as an interdimensional portal to the other side of the universe, transporting the evolved human specimen to its creator (that resided within a star). The creator intelligence found the specimen (Dave Bowman) to be of acceptable quality and rapidly evolved him to the next level, a Star Child. The Star Child is a "godly" evolution of Mankind. The Star Child chooses to instantaneously return to its home planet (Earth), where it stops a nuclear war.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: The monolith is a monitor placed by the aliens to track the progress of developing civilizations. When humanity found the monolith on the Moon, that signaled a certain level of technological advancement. The starbaby is the evolution of the astronaut, as the symbol of humanity, from "Earth-bound" to a true child of the universe, turning his back on the Earth and looking toward the stars.


In both the Arthur C. Clarke story and in the movie, the Star Child does not "turn his back on Earth"; quite the contrary, as soon as Bowman transforms into the Star Child, his first impulse is to instantaneously return to Earth, which he does just in time to stop a nuclear war. In essence, Bowman becomes the guardian of Earth.

Charles Austin Miller

More questions & answers from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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