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Trivia / 2001: A Space Odyssey

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: According to Gary Lockwood, when his agent called him to say that Stanley Kubrick was doing a new movie called 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lockwood asked how much he had to pay Kubrick to be there.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!/Stock Shout-Outs:
    • "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."
    • "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
    • "My god, it's full of stars!" — This line appears in 2001 the book, but not in the movie. Nevertheless, in 2010 the movie, it's claimed Bowman said this before entering the Star Gate.
    • Any time jaunty classical music is used in a space setting, particularly Johann Strauss Jr.'s Blue Danube waltz.
  • Cast the Expert: After failing to find a British actor who could play the Mission Control CapCom, Kubrick hired a real U.S. Air Force air traffic controller stationed in Britain. The interviewer from the BBC was also played by a real BBC newsreader.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • Deleted scenes include details about the daily life on Discovery, additional space walks, astronaut Bowman retrieving a spare part from an octagonal corridor, a number of cuts from the Poole murder sequence including the entire space walk preparation and shots of HAL turning off radio contact with Poole—explaining HAL's response that the radio is "still dead" when Bowman asks him if radio contact has been made—and notably a close-up of Bowman picking up a slipper during his walk in the alien room; the slipper can still be seen behind him in what would have been the next shot in the sequence.
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    • The film originally opened with a ten-minute black-and-white opening sequence featuring interviews with actual scientists, including Freeman Dyson, discussing off-Earth life. Stanley Kubrick removed it after an early screening for MGM executives.
  • Doing It for the Art: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke spent enormous efforts into making everything as realistic as possible. The earth-moving equipment seen on the Moon would actually work on the real Moon. Quite a few experts from NASA and IBM were asked to help design the sets.
    • Clarke published a few lines from his diary from pre-production in the introduction of a re-issue of the novel. They include "rang Isaac Asimov to ask him about the biochemistry of turning herbivores into carnivores." (Asimov, besides writing science fiction, was a professor of biochemistry.) And they never even did anything with that...
    • Rather than using bluescreen, Kubrick filmed all the model shots against black backgrounds and required the compositing work to be done by a team of British animators painting traveling mattes by hand frame-by-frame to mask out each element. When production ended, most of the animators signed onto Yellow Submarine in order to work on something colorful after spending two years painting little black blobs.
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    • Instead of storyboarding the docking sequence, multiple model sequences were shot so Kubrick could edit them down.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Douglas Rain was only given HAL's lines, not the full script - thus keeping the Creepy Monotone at all costs. He was also given a pillow to rest his feet on to keep his voice relaxed.
  • Fake Russian: Brit Leonard Rossiter as Dr. Smyslov, the guy who grills Floyd about just what's going on at Clavius.
  • Film of the Book: Averted, despite conventional wisdom. While the project was inspired by Clarke's earlier short story The Sentinel, the novel and the film were written pretty much in parallel, with developments in screenplay and filming influencing the book, and vice versa. As Clarke put it, the screenplay is by "Kubrick and Clarke," while the novel is by "Clarke and Kubrick".
  • Flip-Flop of God: What exactly the orbital platforms are for. Originally they were intended to be nuclear delivery systems, but this was later retconned to leave their purpose ambiguous.
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  • Life Imitates Art: In spite of the long Science Marches On listing below this, the movie features a brief sequence wherein HAL and Dave play chess together. This was years before computers were designed with the ability to play chess, and then later stacked up against Grandmasters.
  • Missing Episode: See here.
  • Prop Recycling: Deliberately averted. Kubrick had all the sets, special effects models, and design notes destroyed after filming was complete, to prevent them being reused in low-budget B-movies. The production crew for 2010 had to rebuild everything by examining the film itself, frame-by-frame. A deliberate case of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. It didn't work, though. Several models (rebuilt or maybe the same film clip) have been used in various places. Space: 1999 used the same rocket landing site on the Moon, for instance. And some years later, the reconstructed 2010 models did get re-used.
    • Bowman's spacepod can be seen in the background of Watto's scrapyard in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Interestingly, the book Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I notes it as a "repair and maintenance pod of unknown origin". In real-world terms, it's most likely the reconstructed 2010 prop.
    • Babylon 5 would re-use one of the distinctive spacesuits for a major plot device of its own (incidentally, using the only one never used in either 2001 film - the blue suit.)
    • The (unused) model for Saturn was finally used for Silent Running, by which time Trumbull had figured out how to make it look good.
  • Permanent Placeholder: The movie uses a score made out of public domain classical music. It was intended as a placeholder score, but Kubrick ended up preferring it and leaving it in. The original score written by Alex North was eventually released in 1993.
  • Real-Life Relative: Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian plays Floyd's daughter.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The film uses a climactic fanfare that comes from Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra", written in 1896. The work wasn't that popular in the English-speaking world at the time, so it's understandable that many viewers assume it was written especially for the movie.
  • Science Marches On:
    • Besides technology progressing slower than the production team anticipated, there are two details of astronomy in this movie that have since become dated. Kubrick insisted that the artists paint the Earth very pale blue because its albedo is 0.38. Only a few years later, photos from the Apollo missions made everybody realize that this figure is averaged over the pure white clouds and the deep blue oceans. Jupiter and its moons were also intentionally depicted vaguely because of the limitations of ground-based telescopes.
    • The film's depiction of the lunar landscape owes much to the craggy, mountainous terrain that was common in science fiction before the Apollo landings, which showed that micrometeoroid impacts on the Moon erode hills into rounded shapes.. Nonetheless the film is surprisingly accurate given that the production predated even the Surveyor probes, let alone manned exploration.
    • Floyd and everyone else on the Moon walk around completely normally. The Apollo landings later revealed that a loping gait was required in the Moon's 1/6 gravity.
    • The proto-hominids in the opening sequence are all about the same size, but current theories and fossil evidence suggest that the males should've been substantially larger than the females.
    • The notion that the Monolith's influence guided one of the hominids to pick up a bone and start hitting stuff with it loses much of its impact, now that it's known that tool use also occurs in our great ape cousins, as well as ravens, monkeys, elephants, dolphins, and dozens of other genera that aren't our close relatives. The scene still works as a metaphor, but in the literal sense, those creatures should've come up with tools as basic as clubs long before they left the trees.
    • Giovanni Cassini deduced back in 1705 that Iapetus was dark on one hemisphere and light on the other. In the novel, Iapetus is depicted as a dark moon with a light oval on one hemisphere (in the exact center of which is the Monolith). The Voyager and Cassini missions have now shown that it's actually a light moon with a dark oval on one hemisphere.
      • When Voyager returned the first close-up pictures of Iapetus in 1981, Carl Sagan sent Arthur C. Clarke a copy captioned "Thinking of you...".
  • Shoot the Money: The film had a $10.5 million budget, and $6.5 million of it went to special effects—62%. The first thirty minutes of the film is showing off the trained monkeys and the space stations and the moon colonies.
  • Shrug of God: Certain ambiguous or unrealistic elements have been shrugged off by Kubrick and Clarke, such as the true meaning of the Monolith or how HAL was able to read lips from the side. The latter has since been vindicated in recent years. Computer techniques have been capable of figuring out words from using a side camera view for quite some time now.
  • Technology Marches On: Floyd uses a video payphone. Payphones are obsolete now and video phones flopped, though video conferencing over computers is fairly common and there are Skype/Facetime apps for cell phones.
    • When Hal detects a fault on the AE-35 unit, Dave requests hard copy of that information. Hal produces a punched card.
  • Throw It In!: Surprisingly, quite a few examples. Kubrick has a reputation as one of cinema's most controlling and micromanaging directors, but some of the most iconic and/or notable scenes in the film were the result of improvisation and brainstorming during production:
    • The glowing eyes of the leopard in one scene from the "Dawn of Man" segment were the result of the leopard's eyes reflecting the light from the front-projection equipment. It was left it because it looked cool.
    • The conversation between Dave and frank in the EVA pod wasn't originally in the screenplay—the original plan was for the crew to directly act HAL if something was going on they didn't know about, but the scene wasn't satisfying Kubrick or the cast in production. Gary Lockwood voiced his frustrations to Kubrick one day, which resulted in an immediate wrapping of the set; Gary thought he was going to be fired, but during a personal meeting with Kubrick later, he was reassured he wasn't going to be. Subsequently, Gary hit on the idea of a secret conversation out of HAL's hearing, and suggested it to Stanley. (He goes out of his way to state that Stanley was more-than-likely thinking on similar lines already, and his suggestion just made it firm). The scene as filmed resulting from Gary and Keir Dullea improvising a conversation, having it typed up by Kubrick's PA, and using that script for further imrpov, with the goal of streamlining the dialogue and making it as lean as possible.
    • Similarly, the plot device of Dave seeing aged-up versions of himself in the Stargate sequence was a near-simultaneous brainstorm by Stanley and Keir during filming. Keir did take sole credit for the toppled wine glass setting up the final aging shot, however.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Stanley Kubrick had allegedly asked Osamu Tezuka to work as a production designer for the film, but sadly, The God of Manga was far too busy with his own projects to oblige.
    • Also worthy of note is that Kubrick approached the rock group Pink Floyd to do the music to the film (as well as the later A Clockwork Orange), but they declined. Roger Waters later said not scoring 2001 was one of his biggest regrets. (Supposedly "Echoes" syncs up to the third act of 2001, try it out.)
      • In turn Waters asked Kubrick for permission to use a sample of the "My mind's going, Dave" dialogue on the beginning of the track "Perfect Sense (Part I)" on Waters' 1992 solo album, Amused To Death. note . Kubrick refused, so Waters instead left a backwards Take That! to Kubrick in place of where the ''2001'' dialogue was to be on the album. note 
    • Early drafts had the ship powered by an Orion Drive.
    • Early drafts included a prologue containing interviews with scientists about off-Earth life, voice-over narration (a feature in all of Kubrick's previous films), a stronger emphasis on the prevailing Cold War balance of terror, and a different and more explicitly explained break-down for H.A.L. Other changes include a different monolith for the "Dawn of Man" sequence, discarded when early prototypes did not photograph well; the use of Saturn as the final destination of the Discovery mission rather than Jupiter, discarded when the special effects team could not develop a convincing rendition of Saturn's rings; and the finale of the Star Child detonating nuclear weapons carried by Earth-orbiting satellites, which Kubrick discarded for its similarity to his previous film, Dr. Strangelove. The finale and many of the other discarded screenplay ideas survived into Clarke's novel.
    • James Coburn and Rod Taylor were considered for Frank Poole.
    • The film was originally to have ended just as it had in the book, with Bowman discovering the third monolith on Saturn's moon Japetus. This idea was scrapped, however, because the special effects crew was unable to make convincing-looking rings around Saturn.
    • Frank's father tells him in his birthday message that he's straightened out the problem with Frank's "AGS-19 payments". In the final version of the movie, this has no bearing on the plot, but in an earlier draft, Frank's complaints about him and Dave being at a lower pay grade than the hibernating astronauts lead him to ask HAL whether any aspects about the mission had been withheld from him and Dave. This would have made Frank unintentionally responsible for causing his own death.
    • Ken Adam declined to work on the film as production designer after he found out that Kubrick had been working with NASA for a year on space exploration, and that would put him at a disadvantage in developing his art.
    • Originally, the proto-humans in the "Dawn of Man" sequence were meant to be more manlike and not apes, but Kubrick couldn't find a way to make them filmable without constant full frontal nudity.
  • The Wiki Rule: The 2001: A Space Odyssey Wiki.
  • Working Title: Across the Sea of Stars, Universe, Tunnel to the Stars, Earth Escape, Jupiter Window, Farewell to Earth, and Planetfall.


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