June 4, 1999 0 By Fans
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Still of Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. in InstinctStill of Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. in InstinctMaura Tierney at event of InstinctTaylor Dayne at event of InstinctBill Pullman at event of InstinctDave Foley at event of Instinct


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

Release Year: 1999

Rating: 6.3/10 (17,787 voted)

Critic's Score: 43/100

Jon Turteltaub

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland

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.

Writers: Gerald Di Pego, Gerald Di Pego


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


Doug Spinuzza


Paul Bates


Rex Linn

Guard Alan

Rod McLachlan

Guard Anderson

Kurt Smildsin

Guard #1

Jim R. Coleman

Guard #2

Tracey Ellis


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

Release Date: 4 June 1999

Filming Locations: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Box Office Details

Budget: $55,000,000


Opening Weekend: $10,390,387
(6 June 1999)
(2059 Screens)

Gross: $34,098,563
(29 August 1999)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Sean Connery was originally offered the role of Ethan Powell.


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.


Theo Calder:
I'm Dr. Caulder. You've been charged with one count of murder, and found incompetent to stand trial.

She had a demon in her for a while, my neighbour Mrs Karsh.

Theo Calder:

It would come and go. Nobody saw it… except me.

Theo Calder:
What did it look like, the demon?

Um… Did you ever see Alien with Sigourney Weaver?

Theo Calder:
It looked like a giant insect?

No. It looked like Sigourney Weaver.

User Review

one of the most important movies ever made

Rating: 10/10

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
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
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
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
they believe in it. You can feel what it is that they are trying to
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
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
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
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
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,
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.