2001: A Space Odyssey

Corrected entry: In the briefing room on the moon, folks are walking around normally with no apparent effects of the moon's weak gravity. Same for the group of men walking to the monolith in space suits.


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: In the scene where Dave is replacing the AE35 unit at the antenna he is steadying himself only with his hand as he does his work. In reality every motion he made would have a equal opposite reactions so he would have been twisting in space and unable to do a basic task. He should be more firmly anchored to the antenna to be accurate.

Correction: The fact that he can manoevre towards the antenna mount while not tethered to the pod shows he has some form of steering in space, such as small reaction jets. These can be preset to overcome rotational motion of the body nowadays - Space Shuttle astronauts use them. No reason the crew of the Discovery can't be similarly equipped.

Corrected entry: When the scientists are on the moon and approaching the monolith, the lighting from the floodlights changes from shot to shot.

Correction: I have watched the scene over and over again - the lighting changes are caused by the rising sun and the changing position of the men as they walk down the ramp. The position of the floodlights is totally consistent throughout.

Corrected entry: When Floyd is going to make his call to his home, the image of the Earth or the Moon seen in the window behind him changes the way it circles from clockwise to anticlockwise.

Correction: The rotation of Earth in the windows does change direction between the telephone scene and another previous scene. But it doesn't change during the phone scene. I've checked & double-checked; it runs counter-clockwise the whole time.

Corrected entry: Dave exited the ship for an EVA to replace the 'flawed' AE35 unit. Unfortunately, Dave would've received five times the lethal dose of radiation during that brief jaunt. This is typical when in that proximity to Jupiter. Even though Dr. Floyd says "they can't be exposed to that radiation for any longer than four minutes", they'd still die from it within a few weeks of that brief exposure.


Correction: Despite its attempts at authenticity, 2001 is still a science fiction film, and in its reality, Poole's space suit and helmet are made of some futuristic material that provides protection from radiation.

Corrected entry: The stewardess, in her 360-degree stroll to the control room aboard the spherical Aries lunar shuttle, is most certainly going through the wrong door, if you think about where the control room is relative to the rest of the interior (she should have been stepping through the access on the top of the set).

Correction: We do not know that as she exits the 'hallway' where she gets the meals, that she immediately enters the cockpit. There may have been corridors, or even another elevator or stairs, to get to the cockpit.

Corrected entry: As the Pan-Am shuttle is approaching the spinning space station there as a shot of it from within the hub based dock. The star filled background is spinning as it ought to, but the shuttle, which is not yet centered on the dock, is seen swinging across the sky independent of the background. To do this the craft would be tracing a spiral through space.

Correction: We see it comes from one side, swinging across to the other as it tries to line up directly in front of the target. This is like driving a car from across three lanes of traffic to tailgate a truck - you will likely swerve a little too far and have to correct your position once or twice. In 3 dimensions, plus a 4th dimension of moving space as they orbit the moon, this becomes triply difficult to do. So yes, they'd be tracing a spiral, but take a soda can and spin it while flipping it end-over-end, and visualize how the opening tab moves through space - a 3-D spiral.

The shuttle would be tracing the spiral from the point of view of the station's docking bay, with the eccentricity of the spiral declining as it got closer until it were aligned with the docking bay. The point in the original post is not that the ship wouldn't be in a spiral from the POV of the station, it's that in order to appear flying in a straight line independent of the background from the station POV, the ship would have to be flying in an erratic corkscrew flight path that precisely matched the rotation of the backdrop of the stars. This is unlikely. The shuttle would simply need to rotate along its central axis to match the station's rotation until it docked. In the truck analogy, from the POV of the truck the swerving car would appear to be driving erratically, not in the straight line that would be analogous to the shuttle's approach.


Corrected entry: On the moon shuttle after Dr. Floyd, Dr. Halvorsen, and Bill look at pictures and eat their sandwiches, Bill serves coffee with no regard for the weak gravity. Very dangerous.


Correction: There's nothing dangerous about it. Under one sixth gravity the coffee would behave almost the same as it would on earth. For someone used to such gravity conditions it would pose no danger at all. It's only in orbit under 'zero-gravity' that liquids are dangerous.

Corrected entry: 2001 is the only space-based film that correctly portrays 'space' as a soundless vacuum. No whooshes, no THX explosions...

Correction: Actually, this is a common misconception. There are at least two other space movies which accurately omit sound effects in the vacuum of space: Destination Moon and Moon Zero Two.

Corrected entry: In the zero-G sequence of the shuttle approaching the moon Dr. Floyd is served a meal in a zero-G tray with straws. While Dr. Floyd sips through the straws to eat from the zero-G food tray, the food puree falls back down the straws into the tray wells (leaving them "clear") after he finishes sipping, an effect of gravity. In zero-G, the food puree should remain visible in the straw, and not fall.

Correction: Current packages designed for consuming liquids in space, have a minor vaccuum in the container and a valve to maintain it in the straw, to keep the liquid from escaping. I see no reason they wouldn't have them in that future.

Grumpy Scot

Corrected entry: How could there be dust clouds when the lunar probes land when there is such a thin atmosphere on the moon? It happens twice when Dr. Floyd is going to check out the monolith.

Correction: There isn't a thin atmosphere on the moon - there is no atmosphere. The dust is stirred up by the exhaust of the landing rockets on the shuttle. True, it doesn't behave exactly as it would on the moon, but this is an accepted film convention, not a mistake. You can't film in a vacuum.

Corrected entry: When David Bowman is travelling through the space portal, many streaks of light can be seen passing him on both sides yet when we see David Bowman himself, the streaks are reflected in his helmet and they don't seem to be moving at all.

Correction: The reflections in the helmet are of the instruments inside the pod, which we see again after the pod has stopped in the room.

Corrected entry: When troubleshooting the AE-35 unit in the pod bay, the unit is resting on a console, unsecured. The unit should float, since the pod bay doesn't possess artificial gravity, only the main living space does.

Correction: Magnets, velcro, Blutac, double sided sticky tape, adhesive coating on the console ... there are a hundred different methods of securing loose equipment in a microgravity environment. Think the designers of The Discovery didn't think of just one of them?

Corrected entry: In the scene where Bowman is attempting to force entry into the Discovery by using the pod's robotic arm to manually open the exterior door, the error is that the force needed to turn the door opener in a weightless environment should have twisted the pod in the opposite direction as it wasn't physically locked to the mother ship anywhere else by the other arm.

Correction: We see the arm opening the hatch in close ups. We don't see the rest of the pod. As the pod is not spinning, there must be something keeping it stable such as the pod's thrusters firing or a powerful gyroscope.

Grumpy Scot

Corrected entry: Poole takes a pod out to replace AE35. We see this pod spinning off into space. Bowman takes pod 2 out to retrieve Poole. He eventually blows the door to get back inside Discovery. There is no indication that he bothers retrieving this pod: He is occupied with HAL. Bowman takes pod 3 to check out Stargate. He and the pod are sucked in. So where did pod 4 come from in the movie 2010?

Correction: Since you refer to the sequel "2010", Let me point out that in that movie they allude to the fact that Dave Bowman Also jettisoned the bodies of the three dead crew members who were in hibernation (which we never saw him do...) They go on to say that he continued on with his mission to Jupiter after he disconnected HAL's higher brain functions. So since we know all this, isn't it plausible that he retrieved the pod after taking care of HAL?

Why would he take the time to retrieve a damaged pod? There would have been no reason for him to repair the pod (assuming that he could) since he was the only remaining crewmember and had one other operational pod.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Dave is going into the room to shut down HAL, he is wearing his space suit and his sleeve becomes unattached from his glove when he is opening the door. This would be lethal, given that HAL messed up the pressure and drained the oxygen.

Correction: I got the impression he was wearing his suit just in case HAL depressurized, not because he already had. If HAL had depressurized the ship, Dave would have been dead by this point because he would not have been able to repressurize the airlock and get a spare helmet. Further, it seems unlikely that HAL would have the ability to depressurize the ship on his own, crazy or not.

Grumpy Scot

The simple fact that Dave is wearing a green helmet implies to me that he quickly grabbed the first helment to protect himself in the event that Hal depressurized the pod bay by opening one of the pod bay doors (something certainly within is control) as Dave goes through the bay to get to the memory logic section. I say this is a true mistake with his glove.

Corrected entry: When the ship's computer and one of the crew members are playing chess, the computer stated a mate in 2, which is not true. It's mate in 3.

Correction: This actually is an intentional mistake. This error is showing that HAL is starting to fail. If you notice that the whole thing is so complicated that it's hard for the crew member to figure it out so he believes it to be a victory for HAL.

Corrected entry: When they try to hide from HAL, Dave comments that there is a malfunction in the "C" pod. HAL should protest because it doesn’t detect anything wrong, but it doesn’t say anything.

Correction: HAL is already suspicious of the pilots, obvious from the fact that he reads their lips through the window of the pod. Perhaps he ignores this lie in order to learn of their plans.

Corrected entry: There is a scene where one of the astronauts is drinking out of a juice box in space (zero gravity). When he is done drinking from the straw the juice falls back down the straw as if there was gravity.

Correction: The juice was sucked up due to the difference in air pressure caused by sucking on the straw. As such, when he stops sucking, the juice is sucked back into the carton.

Corrected entry: During the trip to the Moon, the spacecraft's captain makes a friendly call on his passenger, Dr. Floyd. Although they are weightless, the captain leans onto Floyd's chair under his full body weight.

Correction: Microgravity doesn't paralyse your muscles. Someone used to 'weightlessness' would be able to pose in such a manner simply by leaning at the right angle.

Revealing mistake: When we see the space station from the cockpit of the approaching shuttle, the station does not appear to rotate because the shuttle is rotating at the same speed. OK...except that the station IS still rotating with respect to the sun, which means that the light source and shadows on the station should be moving.

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

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

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
More questions & answers from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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