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Instinct (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  4 June 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 25,990 users   Metascore: 43/100
Reviews: 232 user | 100 critic | 23 from

When a noted anthropologist who left society to live in the jungle is imprisoned for murder, it's up to a young psychiatrist to get through to him.



(screenplay) (as Gerald DiPego) , (screen story) (as Gerald DiPego) , 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Q. Morris ...
Paul Bates ...
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Tracey Ellis ...


Nearly two years after having gone amiss in Africa, renowned anthropologist Dr. Ethan Powell is caught committing a crime and subsequently imprisoned in a Florida mental institution, where aspiring psychiatrist Dr. Theo Calder takes over his important case. Dr. Powell, who has been with a group of gorillas during all that time, is not talking at all and seems to be living in a dreamworld. Very slowly, Dr. Calder manages to reach Ethan Powell and starts finding out why Ethan killed two of the poachers. Yet Theo's case is not just about why the murders have happened, but also about how Dr. Powell became the being he is in the first place. With Ethan's silence broken, Theo is introduced into a world beyond common human comprehension: The true nature of being. He learns that mankind's control of everything is a mere illusion and that the true values of existence can't be found so easily. Ethan changes Theo's view of things forever. Written by Julian Reischl <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nothing is more savage than civilization. See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some intense violent behavior | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ishmael  »

Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,390,387 (USA) (4 June 1999)


£147,559 (UK) (17 September 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After takes with Cuba Gooding Jr., Anthony Hopkins would routinely say "Show me the money!" in reference to Cuba's character in Jerry Maguire (1996). See more »


When Theo goes to visit Lynn at her home it is late at night, yet once inside the house, daylight is coming through the windows. See more »


Theo Calder: Okay, Ethan. You asked me a question once: "What has you all tied up in knots, when you wake up sweating in the middle of the night?" You still want to know? I've been thinking about it, been thinking about it a lot. It's not the work; I love the work. I've always loved the work. It's the game. The game, Ethan. And I was so good at it. I made sure all the right people liked me. At night, I'd go through the checklist in my mind: Am I cool with Ben Hillard? Am I cool with Dr. Josephson? Am I cool...
See more »


References Alien (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

A slap in the face of today's consumeristic society
26 October 2001 | by See all my reviews

Dear reader,

this movie is fully packed with meaning. The title gives out very little about the true nature of this remarkable work of Jon Turteltaub. Apart from the excellent acting of both the main characters (Hopkins and Cuba Gooding) and the secondary roles, the movie is based on a script of rare quality.

This movie is certainly not going to be appreciated by everyone, certainly not by those unable to honestly look into the modern society and the workings of it, and their role in that society. This movie asks for soul-searching, and unless you are ready for it, unless you are ready to "give up control", you most probably won't like it.

I did like it, thanks also to the fact that I already have meditated on the issues the film raises, earlier in my life. This film is capable of polarizing, because it contains a lot of unpleasant truth, that humanity should accept in order to really advance. This is an important movie, a very strong statement on today's society's relationshipt to nature and it's inhabitants. In the same time, it's analyzing the question of imprisonment and the treatment of inmates. It also raises questions about friendship and loyalty in a way never seen before.

If you have not seen the movie and wonder whether you should, I will give you a hint without spoiling anything: if you didn't like Princess Mononoke, you will not like this movie, either.

52 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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