6.6/10
30,092
235 user 99 critic

Instinct (1999)

Trailer
1:57 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

Jon Turteltaub

Writers:

Gerald Di Pego (screenplay) (as Gerald DiPego), Gerald Di Pego (screen story) (as Gerald DiPego) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Ethan Powell
Cuba Gooding Jr. ... Theo Caulder
Donald Sutherland ... Ben Hillard
Maura Tierney ... Lynn Powell
George Dzundza ... Dr. John Murray
John Ashton ... Guard Dacks
John Aylward ... Warden Keefer
Thomas Q. Morris ... Pete
Doug Spinuzza ... Nicko
Paul Bates ... Bluto
Rex Linn ... Guard Alan
Rod McLachlan ... Guard Anderson
Kurt Smildsin Kurt Smildsin ... Guard #1
Jim R. Coleman ... Guard #2
Tracey Ellis ... Annie
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

One man's mind is another man's mystery. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 June 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ishmael See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Loosely based on the book "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Theo Calder: I'm Dr. Calder. You've been charged with one count of murder and found incompetent to stand trial.
Pete: She had a demon in her for a while. My neighbour, Mrs. Karsh.
Theo Calder: Mm-hmm.
Pete: It would come and go. Nobody saw it... except me.
Theo Calder: What did it look like, the demon?
Pete: Um... Did you ever see "Alien" with Sigourney Weaver?
Theo Calder: It looked like a giant insect?
Pete: No. It looked like Sigourney Weaver.
See more »

Connections

References The Shawshank Redemption (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful movie!
17 July 1999 | by simmersSee all my reviews

I entered the theatre having no real idea what "Instinct" was about, but it seemed like a thriller to me, something similar to "The Silence of the Lambs". However, what I expected to be just another murder mystery turned out to be the powerful story of a man who had finally learnt to live.

Dr. Calder is sent to make an evaluation on Dr. Powell, an anthropologist convicted for murdering 5 men in Rwanda. However, when Dr. Powell relates his experience in the African jungle, he starts teaching Theo Calder a thing or two about "civilisation" and "humanity", thus encouraging Theo not only to learn how to live but also to challenge the rules.

The scenes with the gorillas were so realistic, that I only realised later that they were created artificially. Sometimes, I felt like I was actually watching a documentary.

The acting was superb. Anthony Hopkins was excellent as always and Cuba Gooding Jr. was just perfect as his student/friend. The supporting cast was solid as well, especially the prison inmates.

Despite Theo and Dr. Powell's daughter's confusing relationship and the highly improbable ending, "Instinct" has some beautiful movie moments. Dr. Powell's connection with the gorillas as well as his speech to Theo at the zoo are very touching. The scene at the prison where the inmates tear apart their cards, challenging the guards' authority also reminded me of the famous "O Captain, My Captain" scene in "Dead Poets' Society".

All I can say, is that "Instinct" is a rare film. One that does not need tons of action and explosions to be enjoyable but simply talks about something we can all connect too: life!


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