2001: A Space Odyssey

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.

Revealing mistake: When the astronauts are on the way to the monolith on the Moon, there are two windows seen within the interior of the small space shuttle. During their small lunch, in the left window, the horizon is seen as the surface of the Moon is flowing back against the direction of the flight. However, although sometimes this horizon fills up to half of the window, no horizon can be seen in the right window despite being located directly beside the left window. Nevertheless, the inclination of the Lunar surface should allow for it to be seen.

Revealing mistake: During the "Dawn of Man" sequence, the ape-man scenes were shot on an indoor stage with projected background images on a huge screen behind the stage. The screen itself was a highly reflective cloth. In most shots, it is quite convincing, but in several (especially when facing the aggressive, victorious group during the first fight, then again when facing the tool-using group in the last fight), the rear screen appears to be a patchwork of smaller pieces of cloth as very obvious puzzle-like shapes of varying reflectivity appear in the sky. Once you notice them, it's incredibly distracting. It was originally parallel strips, but they were VERY visible as vertical lines so they were torn into a patchwork to make lines less obvious. (00:08:35 - 00:18:00)

johnrosa

Revealing mistake: When Dave Bowman is attempting to break into the Discovery after being locked out by Hal you can see, reflected in the Pod window as the Pod is spinning around, the edges and top corner of the small set of the Discovery hatch area. (Second timecode is accurate for DVD release) (01:43:00 - 01:46:50)

Revealing mistake: In the sequence of the shuttle approaching the moon the pilot talks to Dr. Floyd. Floyds food-tray moves away from his knees because of the zero gravity in the shuttle. But it doesn't drift straight away, it swings like a pendulum showing that the tray is hanging on a string.

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.

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.

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

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 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.

scwilliam

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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