The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  31 January 2003 (Mexico)
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John Truscott goes to Borneo to work with the Iban. He reports to Henry Bullard, who gives him a "sleeping dictionary"--one of the locals who teaches him the local language and culture. And... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Ling Lee Ian ...
Michael Jessing Langgi ...
Mano Maniam ...
Cicilia Anak Richard ...
Malcolm Rogers ...
Eugene Salleh ...
Kate Helen White ...


John Truscott goes to Borneo to work with the Iban. He reports to Henry Bullard, who gives him a "sleeping dictionary"--one of the locals who teaches him the local language and culture. And who he gives John is Selima. And while teaching him, John finds himself attracted to her. And we says it's not allowed, both the locals and Bullard forbid him to be in a relationship with Selima. But he defies them which has dire consequences. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Learn to speak her language.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

31 January 2003 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Kärlekens lexikon  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film used more than 600 Iban extras. See more »


When Selima and Truscott are given the turquoise bracelets, she takes Truscott's off and wears it. In the next shot, she gives him hers but she's still holding his. See more »


Cecil: [to John] If you're about to be killed at least stay for dinner.
See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »


East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)
Written by Brooks Bowman
Performed by Mary Carewe
See more »

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User Reviews

love-across-the-tracks, remixed......
21 January 2004 | by (Cheltenham, England) – See all my reviews

Liked this film a lot. A rework of the classic Romeo and Juliet impossible-love scenario, it managed to stand out from the crowd, not least because of the impressive cinematography (helped in no small part by the wonderful locales and the beautiful tribes people (The Iban). While never being earth-shattering, for a film to watch with a loved one (without being too girly) this is hard to top IMO. It shows the moral struggle of a man who has to choose between 'duty' and love. The arrogance and conditioning of British colonialism is dealt with well, as we struggled to impose our European values and God on peoples in far flung corners, and indeed it shows the irony that we struggled to retain it ourselves as the beauty of the place and people intoxicated our men (a few cads apart)

Watch it with wifey/girlfriend/prospective mate

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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