directed by Jon Turteltaub





1) What do we learn about Dr. Caulder in this scene?

2) Who is Ethan Powell? What was he like before he went mad?


1) Why does Powell choose to speak to Caulder?

2) Do you think Powell wants to die

3) What does Caulder want from Powell? Powell from Caulder?


1) What does Caulder learn with the gorillas?

2) What does he mean when he says when "I stopped using [the camera], and it was then I began to see them for the first time"?

3) What conclusions does Powell draw from the gorilla's decision to include him in the group?

4) What does Powell mean when he talks about the danger of the cities in comparison with the forest?

5) Why is Powell upset with Caulder?


1) Powell thought he'd become part of the gorillas' family. What about the family he left behind? What part does family play in freedom and happiness? Must that family be naturally connected? Must it even be human?

2) Why does Powell want to be dead to his natural daughter?


1) What does Powell mean when he says, "I didn't even know what murder was when I was you, Juha."

2) Why does Powell want to share his story with Caulder? Why does he need Caulder to share his story with others? Why can't he do so himself?

3) Does Powell have any special insight worthy of sharing? If so, what is this insight, and where does it come from?

4) Is some control necessary? Is freedom an illusion, as this scene suggests?


1) In Powell's true history, there are some people who are good, "They never killed more animals than they could use. They never ploughed more land than they needed. They fought, but they never waged war. Never exterminated. They had a place in the world. And in the world, they were part of it. And they shared it." And, there are some who are bad, "takers." Powell even represents them in different colors. How accurate do you suppose Powell's history is? What forces do you supposed changed the world?

2) Caulder asks, "what, are we supposed to change it back? What are we supposed to do?" What answer does Powell give him? What does it mean?


1) Why does Caulder take Powell to see the caged gorillas? What does he expect will happen there? How is he surprised?

2) Explain the irony in Powell's naming the gorilla he captured "Goliath."


3) Is Powell guilty, why or why not? If he is guilty, of what is he guilty? Does he feel guilty, about what, and why?

4) What does the caged male gorilla's madness-his thinking that freedom was something he'd dreamed-say about the animal?

5) When Caulder asks Powell whether he too has given up, does the film suggest there is a difference between Powell and the gorilla, inasmuch as the gorilla cannot be asked such a question? Does Powell acknowledge any difference?


1) Caulder supposes he's learned something from Powell about society. What does Powell believe he has learned? What does he mean by the game? How do you suppose Caulder will change, if at all?

2) Caulder is emotional about Powell's fate, and presumably afraid Powell has gone silent again. Why does he care? What can we conclude about Caulder from his tears?

3) Compare and contrast Powell's tears in the previous scene with Caulder's tears in this scene.

4) With what implement does Powell dig his way to freedom? Where did he get it? Is there any significance to Powell's use of this implement for this purpose?


1) Why does the film conclude with Powell reading his note to Caulder? What difference would it have made for the meaning of the film if we had simply seen Powell walking in the forest in silence?

2) What does Powell mean when he thanks Caulder for giving him back his daughter? How does he receive back his daughter?

3) Do you suppose that Powell has become, having been restored to his belief in freedom's existence, more or less fit for society, why?


1. How would Rousseau, Marx, and Thoreau understand and react to Powell's point of view and experience?

2. How is Powell's 'true history' like and unlike Locke's and Rousseau's accounts of man in the state of nature? How would Locke or Rousseau criticize Powell's account, and vice versa?

3. What does the film show us about freedom? Does its understanding differ from that of others in this unit? Answer with reference to at least three authors and at least one other film.

4. A Marxist/ Rousseauean criticism of the bourgeois man applies to Caulder: He is deeply concerned with his reputation -- what others think of him. He speaks of this as a 'game.' With reference to the selections from Marx and Rousseau, discuss Calder's experience in the film. What, in terms of our authors, is Calder able to teach or demonstrate for Powell (and vice versa)?

5. How does Powell's relationship with the gorilla demonstrate Rousseau's understanding of the compassion of natural man?


Instinct — Guide to Unit 3 — Back to Unit 3