238 user 99 critic

Instinct (1999)

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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 »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. John Murray
Guard Dacks
Warden Keefer
Guard Alan
Rod McLachlan ...
Guard Anderson
Kurt Smildsin ...
Guard #1
Guard #2


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 <julianreischl@mac.com>

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


$80,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,390,387, 6 June 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$34,098,563, 29 August 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


Ethan tells Theo he will call him 'Tabibu Joua', which is Swaheli, and will remind Ethan of his home in Africa. Swaheli is an artificial language spoken along the East coast, and inland in East Africa. The mountain gorillas, however, live in Central and Western Africa, where Swaheli is not spoken... See more »


Ben Hillard: You help the ones you can.
See more »


References Gorillas in the Mist (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

Not an Illusion, but a Deep Psychological Thriller
22 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins) A brilliant anthropologist, committed to an asylum for the criminally insane after committing murder.

Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.) a brilliant young psychologist, volunteers to examine Ethan to try and understand what exactly went on.

Theo's driven ambition pushes him into the psyche of a madman where he risks his own life to peel away the layers and unveil the man behind the madness.

A perfect cast and terrific story make this a very tense and thrilling ride through the mind of a madman, who may just hold the secret to remove the illusions we all have.

8/10 If you bore easily then leave well alone.

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