Instinct (film)

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Instinct poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Produced by Michael Taylor
Barbara Boyle
Screenplay by Gerald Di Pego
Story by Gerald Di Pego
Based on Ishmael
by Daniel Quinn
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • June 4, 1999 (1999-06-04)
Running time
126 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80 million
Box office $34,105,207

Instinct is a 1999 American psychological thriller film starring Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., George Dzundza, Donald Sutherland, and Maura Tierney. It was very loosely inspired by Ishmael, a novel by Daniel Quinn.[1] In the United States, the film had the working title Ishmael. In 2000, the film was nominated for and won a Genesis Award in the category of feature film. This was the first film produced by Spyglass Entertainment after Caravan Pictures shut down.


The film examines the mind of anthropologist Ethan Powell (Hopkins) who had been missing for a few years, living in the jungle with gorillas. He is convicted of killing and injuring several supposed Wilderness Park Rangers in Africa, and is sent to prison. A bright young psychiatrist, Theo Caulder (Gooding), tries to find out why he killed them, but becomes entangled in a quest to learn the true history and nature of humankind. Eventually it is revealed that during the course of Powell's stay with the gorillas, they accepted him as part of their group; he was attempting to protect his gorilla family when the rangers arrived and started shooting them. He gets a hearing to reveal the truth, but an attack by a vicious guard on the other prisoners causes Powell to be reminded of the killed gorillas and stop talking again. At the end of the film, Powell escapes from prison using a pen to dig out the lock on a window, and heads back to Africa.



The film received mostly mixed reviews. Review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, states the film received an average score of 43 based on 23 reviews.[2] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a critic score of 27% and an audience score of 67%.[3] The film was also a box office bomb, grossing only $34,105,207 in the United States and Canada.[4] The film won a Genesis Award for its themes of animal rights.[5]


Instinct (soundtrack album - cover art).jpg
Film score by Danny Elfman
Released 1999
Danny Elfman chronology
Men in Black
(1997)Men in Black1997
Sleepy Hollow
(1999)Sleepy Hollow1999
  1. "Main Title"
  2. "Into the Wild"
  3. "Back to the Forest"
  4. "Everybody Goes"
  5. "The Killing"
  6. "The Riot"
  7. "Escape"
  8. "End Credits"


  1. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (June 5, 1999). "Instinct review". Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Instinct reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ Instinct, Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2016-10-28 
  4. ^ "Instinct (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ Genesis Awards 2000

External links[edit]