Instinct (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  4 June 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 26,237 users   Metascore: 43/100
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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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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Q. Morris ...
Paul Bates ...
Rod McLachlan ...
Kurt Smildsin ...
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


One man's mind is another man's mystery. 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?


Sean Connery was originally offered the role of Ethan Powell. See more »


In the end credits, David B. Nowell's credit for aerial photography is misspelled as "aeriel". See more »


Ethan Powell: We have only one thing to give up. Our dominion. We don't own the world. We're not kings yet. Not gods. Can we give that up? Too precious, all that control? Too tempting, being a god?
See more »


References The Shawshank Redemption (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly good
3 July 2002 | by (The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This film really surprised me. I mean REALLY. I mean I knew that Hopkins, Sutherland and Gooding Jr. were good actors and I'd heard about the film, but I was believing it would be nothing special. I WAS wrong. It had been very long, since I had last seen a film, with a message, a meaning and a higher value than entertainment, but this one is it. Maybe it's just because I study psychology, but I really enjoyed this film. It will take away your illusions. Highly recommended.

8 out of 10

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