6.6/10
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234 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.

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

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

References The Silence of the Lambs (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
one of the most important movies ever made
17 June 1999 | by baumerSee all my reviews

Every once in a while a movie comes out that has something to say. It has something to offer that is more than just Hollywood. It believes in something. In recent years movies like Dances With Wolves, JFK, Falling Down, Malcolm X, Boyz and The Hood and Saving Private Ryan are recent ones that come to mind. They make us examine who we are and what we are doing here and why we do the things that we do. They make us question our actions and they show us that we are perhaps not as great as we thought we were. Movies like this don't come around too often and that's because they have things to say that not only people don't like to hear, but because they don't want to know. Dances With Wolves made me feel guilty to be a white man, Instinct made me ashamed to be a human being.

There is a line in one of Pearl Jams songs that says " I don't question our existence, I just question our modern needs. " You will not find more profound lyrics than those ones and this movie takes that same idea and explores it deeper. It shows us the greedy nature of man and how destructive we all are. But it also shows us how beautiful it all once was, and how it all changed.

This movie has been so unfairly critisized by everyone from the media to even other people in this very forum that don't seem to understand what it is all about. By now we all know the story of how Anthony Hopkins goes to the jungle and lives among the gorillas and then ends up murdering people. But what we don't know is why he does it. How he gets to that fateful moment and what it is that makes him, a peaceful man, want to kill another human being.

The strengths in this movie are numerous but it starts with the performances. Hopkins is quietly brilliant as the emotionally traumatized and scarred former anthropologist. You can feel his pain even before he tells what it is that is eating away inside of him. Cuba Gooding is great as the doctor that goes on a journey with Ethan Powell. At first his interest in Powell is simply one of selfishness. But as he learns more about this complex man, the more he understands and empathizes with him. Also good in his role as the brutal prison guard is John Ashton ( remember him from Beverly Hills Cop? ). His character is very reminiscent of Clancy Brown's in Shawshank Redemption but he is very good here. But the real strength of the film is in the story and the screenplay.

The two writers for the film care about what it is that they have to say and they believe in it. You can feel what it is that they are trying to convey. And that is simply: why must we as human beings be so destructive? Why must we be so hateful and greedy and why do have to ruin everything that was once pure and serene? The scenes in this film that are meant to ask for your sympathy are not just gratuitous violence to sell tickets, they are there because things like this happen in real life and we never do anything to stop it. And that is a shame.

Denzel Washington's character in " The Siege " said, " You don't let any murderer go free. ANY MURDERER!!! " Well Hopkin's character was punished for his crime but what about the men that murdered those that weren't human? What crime have they committed? And what punishment do they receive for the act of murder against something that isn't human? There is no punishment. And that is what makes us sad individuals and that is what this movie is trying to tell us.

Give this movie a chance. It really is a gem and hopefully it will open just one person's eyes and ask them to change. If it can do that, then it has done it's job. I applaud everyone associated with this movie. I just wish more studios and directors and actors would have the guts to do this. I just hope some people can see this movie for what it is and not for what we critisize it for trying to be. And as melo-dramatic as this review may sound to some people and as melo-dramatic as this is also going to sound, it has to be said.

Thank you John Turtletaub for making this movie. You moved me and made me think about a great many things. I hope I'm not alone.


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