The Floating Pen in 2001: A Space Odyssey (film still from 2001: A Space Odyssey)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

About twenty-five minutes into Kubrick’s 2001, during the gravity-free shuttle ride, there’s a great special effect: a loose pen, floating through the air.

Apparently it took them a long time to get this shot right: any kind of messing about with bits of wire just wouldn’t have looked realistic. The effect was finally achieved by sticking the pen to a large sheet of glass, and slowly rotating the glass in front of the camera.

When you’re watching the movie, if you look carefully, you can see the very slight resistance when the airline hostess picks the pen ‘out of the air’, and it detaches from the glass.

Airline hostess picks a pen out of the air in 2001.

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