2001: A Space Odyssey

Visible crew/equipment: During one of the scenes where an astronaut does an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity or "Space Walk"), you see him floating slowly from the Pod shuttle towards the Discovery. This was filmed by hanging the pod on the ceiling and lowering the actor from it with a rope towards the camera that's pointing upward. If you look carefully, you can see the shadow of the rope.

2001: A Space Odyssey mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: When the astronauts are approaching the monolith on the moon, you can see the reflection of the cameraman in the visor of the first astronaut off the ramp, in the close up of him walking around the monolith. This shot was personally filmed by Stanley Kubrick and the reflection is his own. (00:48:40)

Revealing mistake: When the lead ape-man is attacking and beating the rival ape-man group leader with a pig bone, the bone bends with each blow, revealing that it was made of rubber.

Continuity mistake: Dave only takes one utensil on his tray, later he has two. (00:59:00)


Other mistake: When Dave is deactivating HAL, he unlocks memory blocks one by one by turning a key for every one of them. When he's done the first five memory blocks, from number 6 to 2, he changes the key from right to left hand, and jumps to the logic terminal blocks, unlocking number 5 of those. However, number 1 of the memory blocks slides out. (01:48:20)

Continuity mistake: Frank is running around the centrifuge. He passes the ladder with two bunks to the right and the work station to the left. When Dave comes down the ladder, the bunk is to the left. This error is caused by Frank's last two running shots (the ones where the camera stayed just ahead or just behind him as he ran) having been accidentally reversed in editting. Frank's hair is parted on the wrong side and the sleep tube layout and the body positions within are precise mirror images of the layout seen in all prior and following shots. (00:56:50 - 00:57:55)


Factual error: 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.

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

Suggested 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.

2001: A Space Odyssey mistake picture

Deliberate mistake: When Dave is in the pod arguing with Hal to let him back in, various patterns of light are projected on Dave's face presumably from the video screens that say NAV and COM and such. Light on such a screen would diffuse and not project like this. It is likely those screens had rear projection and they merely removed the screens for this effect.

Other mistake: When Frank does his first EVA he presses a button to darken his visor, but the button is marked "TEST ALARM" (visible on Blu-Ray version).

2001: A Space Odyssey mistake picture

Continuity mistake: When Dave begins to disconnect HAL's circuits, one angle shows him unlock the first, second, then third unit. Just as he's about to remove the key from the third lock, the angle changes and he's pulling the key from the second lock and then goes for the third again. We know this is consecutive time as HAL is pleading with Dave the entire time. (01:51:45)


Audio problem: On Dave's deathbed, sometimes the breathing matches his chest movements and sometimes it really doesn't.


Revealing mistake: The classic scenes of ships in earth orbit is quite realistic, but the Earth lacks an atmosphere. Examining actual photos shows a soft glow around the edge of the earth, missing in the film.

Deliberate mistake: On the space station after Dr. Floyd has just gotten off the elevator and is talking to a receptionist, the moon image in the window is revolving with the exact appearance it had when Floyd was in the telephone booth when the camera angle is perpendicular to the window and presumably parallel to the station's rotational axis. In the receptionist scene, the view of the window is at an angle yet the rotating moon image is the same. This would require a different axis of rotation for the space staton - one in which the station would be wobbling.

Revealing mistake: When Dr. Floyd arrives at the Moon and goes to the Monolith site at Tycho Crater, the moon shuttle never casts a shadow on the lunar surface. This is especially noticeable in the first shot, wherein the shuttle is coming straight at the camera, the Sun is on the far right, and there is a giant lunar cliff on the far left. No shadow of any sort.

Charles Austin Miller

Continuity mistake: When HAL asks Dave the personal question after inspecting his renderings, the position of the sketch pad changes between shots: right side of body to left side, on his lap, etc. (01:06:15)


Factual error: In the title shot, the camera rises above the dark side of the moon, revealing the crescent of the Earth, which in turn reveals the full disc of the Sun. The Sun is surrounded by the pinpoint lights of distant stars, but there are virtually no stars visible on the darkened far left and far right sides of the screen. This is exactly opposite of how real-life astronauts describe the star scape: Astronauts say that no stars are visible when looking in the general direction of the Sun, and that stars only become visible to the human eye as you turn away from the Sun.

Charles Austin Miller
2001: A Space Odyssey mistake picture

Continuity mistake: When Frank Poole and Dave Bowman are discussing with HAL the possibility of HAL being in error predicting the AE-35 Unit fault, the 10x3 grid of buttons on the console in front of them is lit differently depending on whether the shot is from behind the men, or in front of them. (01:20:40 - 01:23:00)

Continuity mistake: In the scene where HAL is reading the lips of Bowman and Poole through a pod window, while they are in the pod discussing his possible disconnection, they are shown to be directly facing each other, keeping their heads perfectly still, while HAL looks back and forth from mouth to mouth. In the previous scene, the two men were not conversing in this unusual manner.

Visible crew/equipment: In both EVA scenes, first when Dave retrieves the AE-35 Unit, and when Frank goes to re-install it, there are shots of Discovery in the background, the pod in the foreground and the astronaut floating between. And in both of these shots, the pod rotates 180 degrees. In the front window of the pod, we can see reflected images of the film set and equipment as the pod rotates.


Continuity mistake: As Bowman enters B-pod to retrieve the AE-35 Unit, he lifts his left foot into the pod first. But as Poole is watching him do so on a monitor, Bowman lifts his right foot into the pod first. (01:12:45)


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: 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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