2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

64 corrected entries

(17 votes)

Corrected entry: If you take the letters in the computer's name (HAL), and then the next letter in the alphabet after each one, you get IBM. Stanley Kubrick denied it was on purpose but it is still kind of neat.

Correction: Arthur C. Clarke who wrote the book from the film also always and consistently denied this .

Corrected entry: When Dave recaptures Frank with the pod, one of Frank's legs is outside the pod's pincers, but when Dave releases Frank to reenter the ship, both legs are in the pincer. Seems a bit risky to try to get another grip in the vacuum of space...


Correction: Not at all. The other arm held Frank securely around the neck so that opening and re-grasping for both Frank's legs would be risk-free.


Corrected entry: On Discovery, artificial gravity is created by a spinning centrifuge. This is fine, but crew members are shown climbing a ladder into the center, where they are weightless. In reality, they would experience a quite large force perpendicular to the ladder. This is because they still have momentum from traveling with the floor of the centrifuge, but the speed of the higher steps is lower, and the speed in the center is zero.

Correction: True, but you are not taking all of the variables into consideration. Most importantly, how fast is the centrifuge spinning? We don't really know; they never say that the subjects standing at the bottom of the ladder are under full gravity; it may be a fraction of earth's gravity. Second, they take a few seconds to climb/descend the ladder, and they are bracing themselves from any sideways motion while on the trips up and down. Saying they would experience "quite a large force perpendicular to the ladder" is an asumption. It is also not a movie mistake, your statement would have to include both the amount of force that should be pushing them sideways and proof that they could not overcome the force by grasping the ladder rungs tightly.


Corrected entry: During the scene when the photographer is taking photographs of the scientists next to the monolith on the moon, a flying insect e.g. a fly or moth, can quite be briefly seen against the dark background of the monolith itself.

Correction: I just watched this scene twice, once in slow motion, and can see no such thing. Screenshot, please?

Corrected entry: In the scenes with the lunar shuttle and the lunar buggy, we see a swirling cloud of dust as they are touching down. The dust would only swirl around like this within an atmosphere; it would not do this on the airless moon. (00:40:00 - 00:50:40)

Correction: Similar mistakes have been posted and corrected. This is an accepted film technique, not an error. You cannot film in a vacuum, even if you could find a studio big enough to have the air pumped out.

Corrected entry: The initial scene shows a desert with Brazilian tapirs grazing in the background. Tapirs have never been recorded living in any sort of desert, either through live sightings, secondary evidence, or fossil record.

Correction: Neither have apes, leopards or zebras. This is not a desert - it is tropical grassland which has been devastated by drought.

Corrected entry: In the montage of various Earth orbiting satellites, there is a shot of a device which is clearly illuminated mainly from underneath, whereas the Earth & Moon in the background are clearly lit from above.

Correction: That's because it is lit from underneath - by reflected light from the Earth, which is only a few hundred kilometres away. The Earth has a very high albedo and would reflect a huge amount of light onto the satellite.

Corrected entry: When Heywood Floyd was talking to his daughter on the video-phone, the camera at home was moving slightly (up, down and sideways) to follow the movements of the girl. In reality, the phone camera would have been in a fixed position.

Correction: I have a webcam with a motion sensor which follows me as I move, and a studio protected by CCTV cameras similarly equipped. Bog standard technology.

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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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.

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

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.