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List of 2001: A Space Odyssey trivia

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This is a list of trivia relating to Stanley Kubricks 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.


  • All of the "computer graphic" effects in 2001 were created with hand-drawn animation, and the special effects sequences were produced entirely with conventional optical and model effects.[1]
  • Stanley Kubrick and his team tried several variants of the alien artifacts. One of the early favored designs was a tetrahedron, but Kubrick later rejected this because people would believe there was a connection with the pyramids. A transparent version of the familiar rectangular monolith was also constructed out of perspex, but it proved too difficult to light and shoot effectively and Kubrick then had the prop remade in its final form of a black slab.
  • The first portion of the psychedelic "stargate sequence" was made using Slit-Scan photography, a camera technique in which bands of color from a thin slit are projected onto photographic film.[1] The images used for this sequence can be viewed in their original form using Slit-Scan unraveling techniques.[2] Some of the revealed images appear to be photographs from nature (flowers, coral, etc.) and geometric light shapes.
  • The living quarters for the Discovery was built by aircraft manufacturer Vickers-Armstrong inside a 12-meter by two-meter drum designed to rotate at five km per hour. A camera could operate through a slot in the centre of the set while Kubrick directed the action from outside, using a closed-circuit TV system. It cost $750,000, nearly 10% of the whole budget, but due to cuts made by Kubrick is only used to its full effect in a small number of scenes.
  • The "Dawn of Man" scenes (except for "Moonwatcher" demolishing the tapir skeleton with a bone) were all filmed in the studio using a system of front projection for the backgrounds as this would not show up on the Ape costumes.
  • With the exception of two baby chimpanzees, all of the apes in the beginning of the film were played by mimes, dancers and actors in costumes.
  • In 1969, Planet of the Apes won an Oscar for Best Make-Up for their apes, despite looking a lot less realistic than the apes in 2001. Writer Arthur C. Clarke said "2001 did not win the Academy Award for makeup because judges may not have realised the apes were actors". 2001: A Space Odyssey won an Oscar in 1968 for Special Effects, as well as BAFTAs for Cinematography and Production Design.
  • Many different techniques were tried to achieve the effect of the pen floating in zero gravity on the flight to the space station. In the end a sheet of clear perspex was placed in front of the camera to which the pen was attached with double-sided tape, a recent invention. The actress playing the crew attendant simply pulled the pen off the plastic. Small scratches in the plastic occasionally can be seen on some high definition sets playing a DVD copy, or when the film is screened in theatres. An attempt was made to use a similar technique in filming 2010, when Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) demonstrates how the Alexei Leonov can escape Jupiter space ahead of the launch schedule, but never could work right. Special effects were used instead.
  • In the scene where Dave Bowman blows open the pod's door and is seen bouncing around in zero gravity as all the air is sucked out of the room, the effect was actually achieved by having the actor hang above the camera from a wire, with his own body blocking the wire from view. The same technique is used in shots of Bowman entering HAL's internal logic chamber. These methods were extremely exhausting for the stunt actors used to film the shots.
  • When Bowman re-enters the ship, he is exposed to vacuum for no more than 10 seconds before operating the repressurization valve. Scientific evidence shows that this would indeed be survivable without grievous harm, notwithstanding the sensational depictions in other movies.
  • As Dave Bowman climbs into HAL's logic center to shut him off, the glove on his suit's left hand is clearly not locked onto the suit as is done with actual space suits. The glove is only a slip on type and separate from the suit—therefore the suit is not sealed as it is supposed to be. The glove again appears attached once he enters the logic center.
  • In shooting the scene of the leopard with his kill, Kubrick did not use a zebra carcass or a studio prop. The carcass of a recently euthanized farm horse was brought onto the set and painted.[1]
  • When the actors appear to be walking around the ship in zero gravity, the set and camera were actually rotating around them. Kubrick got the idea from the Fred Astaire musical Royal Wedding.
  • 2001 was filmed at the same time and in the same studios as the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and Arthur C. Clarke is believed to have made a brief non-speaking cameo appearance in one scene of the latter film. In addition, the TV series The Prisoner was also being filmed next door, and series star/executive producer Patrick McGoohan borrowed a piece of special effects footage made for 2001 (namely an image of stars in the night sky) for use in a scene for his show.
  • A scene was cut from the film depicting the purchasing of a bushbaby from "Macy's pet department" by Heywood Floyd via videophone. According to Arthur C. Clarke, Macy's department store "wasn't happy that it was cut".[2]

Cast and crew[edit]

  • A four-year-old Vivian Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick's daughter, had an uncredited guest role as Floyd's daughter "squirt" to whom he speaks via videophone from Space Station 5.[3]
  • After seeing a documentary entitled To the Moon and Beyond at the 1964 New York World's Fair, Kubrick hired one of its special effects technicians, Douglas Trumbull, to work on 2001.
  • Almost all of the American actors featured were expatriates who happened to be living in London, making it cheaper to hire them.
  • Comedian Ronnie Corbett was employed for the make up tests for the Ape Men; it is reported that the results were too disturbing, and a much revised approach is seen in the film. Corbett did not act in the film.
  • The English actor Nigel Davenport was hired to read the dialogue for HAL but Kubrick dismissed him as the accent was too distracting. Martin Balsam was also tried for the voice of HAL but Kubrick found his voice too emotional. Sometime during post-production, Canadian actor Douglas Rain was hired to voice HAL. It is believed that Keir Dullea (David Bowman) and Rain have never actually met in person.
  • At Kubrick's request, first assistant director Derek Cracknell had his baby daughter Sarah screen-tested to be the Star Child. The footage ultimately went unused, and a model of the baby appears in the finished film. Sarah Cracknell, however, would go on to a different sort of stardom as singer with the British indie band Saint Etienne. When asked in interviews why her footage was not used, Sarah has joked that she looked "too cute".
    • Also, in Robert Bloch's autobiography, Once Around the Bloch, he recalls that, upon seeing the Space Baby while visiting the set in the company of Arthur C. Clarke, he exclaimed "Arthur! it looks just like you!"


  • In the French version of the film, HAL is referred to as CARL, for "Cerveau Analytique de Recherche et de Liaison" ("Analytic Research and Communication Brain"), and "Daisy Bell", the song HAL sings, is replaced by "Au Clair de la Lune".
  • In the German version of the film, "Daisy Bell", the song HAL sings, is replaced by Hänschen klein.
  • In the Italian version of the film, "Daisy Bell", the song HAL sings, is replaced by "Giro giro tondo".


  • It has been frequently noted that if the letters "HAL" are each increased by one letter in the alphabet sequence it would make "IBM". Clarke insists that this is a coincidence; HAL is an amalgam of "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer." Clarke would for years attempt to dismiss the anecdote that this had been done on purpose, declaring in 1972, “we were quite embarrassed by this, and would have changed the name had we spotted the coincidence.” Even after having Dr. Chandra rebuff the correlation in 2010: Odyssey Two, by 1997, Clarke accredited the idea for the name had come from Kubrick. In the closing notes to 3001: The Final Odyssey, he wrote, "far from being annoyed by the association, Big Blue is now quite proud of it"—after years of distancing themselves from 2001, IBM now embraced the "reformed" HAL. See HAL 9000.
  • The first spoken utterance is almost a half hour into the film, and there's less than 40 total minutes of dialogue in the whole film.
  • There are five birthdays in the film (in chronological order):
    1. Humankind;
    2. Dr. Floyd's daughter;
    3. Astronaut Frank Poole;
    4. computer HAL's "operational" birthday (January 12, 1992);
    5. the Starchild is born.
  • It has been claimed that the psychedelic "stargate sequence" that concludes the film, entitled "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite", matches perfectly with the Pink Floyd song, "Echoes", just as Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon is believed to synchronize well with the movie The Wizard of Oz.[3][4]
  • The book's description of the moon Japetus curiously closely describes another Saturnian moon, Mimas; this was a coincidence, as close-up images of Saturn's moons did not become available until 1980. According to Clarke, in the foreword to the 30th anniversary edition of 2001, this destination was removed from the movie version because Kubrick felt the special effects created to depict Saturn and its rings were not realistic enough. Special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull eventually re-used much of his early designs for Saturn in his 1972 film Silent Running.
  • When Frank Poole's parents sing "Happy Birthday" in a transmission to the Discovery, each sings in tune - but in different keys (his father in E Major, his mother in A Major).
  • The version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" used in the film was performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, and originally released on Decca. It is unaccredited in 2001 because Decca didn't want to be associated with a "sci-fi" movie (although it did license the piece for the film). Deutsche Grammophon, who supplied the rest of the music in the film, was happy to be credited and ended up with the best-selling soundtrack album (throughout Europe; in the US the album was released on MGM Records). However, on that album DG was forced to substitute Karajan's "Zarathustra" with a version by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Karl Böhm.
  • The image of "reaching out" with an extended finger was directly taken by Kubrick from the well-known image in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel artwork—Man extending his finger to touch the hand of God. Spielberg utilized the same imagery for his film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Touching the Monolith approximates the Biblical equivalent of "and man became a living soul."
  • Bowman's arrival in the hotel room has since become a science fiction cliché for situations where a vastly powerful being must construct a benign environment for a human. However, Kubrick and Clarke were not the first to use the motif of a commonplace earth environment being presented to an earthman by aliens:
    • In Mars is Heaven (Planet Stories, Fall 1948) by Ray Bradbury, when an expedition arrives on Mars, the crew find a typical town of the 1920s filled with their long lost loved ones. The Martians have used the memories of the astronauts to lure them into their old houses to be murdered in the middle of the night.[4]
    • In The Twilight Zone episode "People Are Alike All Over", a scientist named Samuel Conrad (Roddy McDowall) survives his ship's crashlanding on the planet Mars. He discovers that Martians are human in appearance, friendly, and seemingly just like us. The Martians present Conrad with a surprise: a house built exactly like one on Earth. Conrad is left alone inside, but soon realizes that the building has no windows and all the doors are locked. Suddenly, a wall slides upward, revealing that he is now a specimen in a zoo. This episode was broadcast three years before Clarke was contacted by Kubrick to begin work on 2001.
    • In the 1997 film Contact researcher Ellie Arroway is transported to an alien planet where a familiar earth-like tropical beach landscape is created for her by an alien civilization. A representative from this civilization communicates with Ellie in English, appearing as an incarnation of her own father.
  • The main working title for the film was Journey Beyond the Stars. Kubrick came up with the present title 8 months into productions after going over many other suggested titles like Universe, Tunnel to the Stars, How The Solar System Was Won, and Planetfall.[5]
    • While the novel was still in development, Arthur C. Clarke used the title, Universe, for one of the chapters. The chapter was set in the Jupiter Mission theme before Clarke decided that the novel should instead follow the Saturn Mission theme—deviating it from the film (see The Lost Worlds of 2001).
  • The line of dialogue "See you next Wednesday", spoken by Frank Poole's parents in the transmitted birthday greeting, has become a famous in-joke in the films of John Landis.
  • Some people have compared the shape of Discovery One to a human sperm, with Jupiter being an ovum. They emphasize this by the birth of the Star Child at the end. Douglas Trumbull, in an interview, refuted this statement. According to Jerome B. Agel's Making of Kubrick's 2001, the ship was modeled after a human skeleton (head, spine, and hip). This can be seen in the scenes when Bowman takes out B-pod for EVA—the ship resembles a person opening his/her mouth to protrude the tongue.[6]
  • The original scripted ending has the Star Child set off the orbiting nuclear devices seen (though not explained) in the "Blue Danube" sequence. Kubrick concluded this was too similar to the ending of Dr. Strangelove and so opted for the more ambiguous and optimistic ending scene. In his book The Making of Kubrick's 2001, Jerome Agel explained this, making note of the meaning of the intentional irony of the song sung at the ending of Dr. Strangelove: "We WON'T Meet Again".[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Making of Kubrick's 2001 by Jerome Agel
  2. Castle, Alison (Editor). The Stanley Kubrick Archives, Taschen, 2005. ISBN 3-8228-2284-1
  3. Nelson, Thomas Allen. Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze. Indiana University Press, 2000. p.121
  4. Newsweek magazine. "Kubrick's Cosmos," by Joseph Morgenstern, Newsweek April 15, 1968. Reprinted in: The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stephanie Schwam (Editor), pp. 174-177

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