2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

63 corrected entries

(16 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: Moon Watcher, inspired somehow by the Monolith, invents the club. Presumably, it's the first invention ever. He imagines clubbing a herbivore. In the next scene, he brings skabs of meat to his buddies. But he had neither a knife nor any skill in butchering. He could not have cut up the carcass.

Correction: Wild chimpanzees, baboons and other primates kill their prey and tear them to pieces with their hands. Smashing a leg bone (with a club) would make the flesh relatively easy to remove.

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: 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 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 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.


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: 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: Early in the movie, when the Aries moon shuttle touches down on the covered/shielded landing platform, a considerable amount of dust is kicked up by the engines. But with no atmosphere to blow dust around, it couldn't have blown in from the moon's surface and since this is seemingly the only landing site at the base, it wasn't caused by other landers. Nice effect, though.


Correction: Watch the scene again - that's not dust. It is rocket exhaust from the Aries moon shuttle itself.

You may be correct! I'll have to withhold judgement till I see the movie again.


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: Originally the film was going to end with the Starchild activating the nuclear launch platforms orbiting Earth, using the planet's destruction as a means to accelerate the evolution of mankind into its new universally intelligent form. Stanley Kubrick eventually decided against this as it was too similar to the ending of his previous film "Dr. Strangelove".

Correction: As author Arthur C. Clarke conceived the story, Dave Bowman transforms into the Starchild and instantaneously returns to Earth to become the planet's guardian. The Starchild arrives just as international tensions erupt into nuclear war; whereupon, the Starchild safely destroys the nuclear weapons, saving Mankind from itself. There was never any mention or intention of the Starchild destroying Earth.

Charles Austin Miller

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.


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.


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.


Other mistake: There is something drastically wrong with the design of the spherical 'Aries' moon shuttle. Some seats and many fixtures are 'upside down' relative to the up-down orientation of the shuttle itself, and we see loose food trays and equipment about the place as if this is routine. But - the shuttle is designed to land on the moon. What happens then? The moon has gravity, remember? There are going to be quite a few very disgruntled people dangling upside down like spiders, and there will be loose gear (and perhaps a stewardess or two) bouncing about all over the place. It is not a matter of stowing loose gear or lying flat on landing - some parts of the shuttle are upside down relative to others, which is why the stewardess has to do that famous 180 degree upside down walk. Whichever way you look at it the shuttle is going to encounter serious problems when it reaches a gravity well, which will occur whenever the engines are fired up, never mind landing on the moon.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: The shuttle lands "on its back" with legs extending beyond the engines. As in most traditional sci-fi, and ALL actual, space flights to date, the launch (and landing) orientation for humans is to be on one's back. This minimizes blood being sucked down to your feet if you were sitting upright at launch - you could pass out. So we see this when the shuttle lands on the moon - the cockpit (red window) faces up (pilots on their backs, facing out the window). When we presume that the passenger cabin was 180 degrees spun around from the cockpit seating, they're still on their backs. Any loose objects would have been stowed before landing - the airlines don't lock down your bags, newspapers and coffee cups, right? They're loose in the cabin during flight, but put away on takeoff and landing.

Airliners do not fly upside down. The Orion shuttle cannot possibly operate the way it does if it lands in a gravity environment - some rooms are upside down relative to others - why else would the stewardess do the 180 degree vertical walk? It is an idiotic design flaw, and the posting is 100% correct.

The Aries passengers sit and stand with their feet down towards the moon. The pilots sit with their back down to the moon, as conventional astronauts do on Earth. But the attendant's 180-degree walk is completely wrong to the orientation of the shuttle's interior: it should have been only 90° if you look at the Aries exterior. One assumes that Kubrick preferred a longer, more cinematic shot, over a technically accurate shot. But nobody was upside-down to the moon.

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: What was the ultimate destination of the Jupiter mission? The giant planet is made of gas, it has no solid surface to land on. Theoretically a spacecraft could land on one of Jupiter's moons, but they lie within the lethal radiation belt.

Answer: The ultimate goal was to orbit Jupiter to study the Monolith also in orbit around it.

Grumpy Scot

Answer: The objective of the Discovery (Jupiter) mission was to locate the recipient of the powerful radio signal that was transmitted from the Moon earlier in the movie. Interestingly, the destination of the Discovery mission changed between Jupiter to Saturn and back to Jupiter during the production of the film. The Jupiter visual effects had already been shot ("in the can" as it were) when Stanley Kubrick decided to change to Saturn. It was the protest of the visual effects team, who had already spent much time and money on the Jupiter effects, that convinced Kubrick to stay with Jupiter. In the meantime, author Arthur C. Clarke went ahead and changed the destination to Saturn in his written treatment of the movie.

Charles Austin Miller

More questions & answers from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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