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?


Jessica Alba said that she disliked this film and her performance in it. 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 »


Mango Tango
Written by Alex Heffes
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User Reviews

a beautiful film
30 July 2006 | by (Spain) – See all my reviews

This was an excellent film and brought back a lot of memories of my time with the Iban people in Sarawak. The costumes, the people, the scenery...these would all be worth watching the movie even without a good plot. There are some priceless moments in it including a conversation with the cook about drunkenness and wages and the relationship between the young Englishman and the Iban people he is supposed to be governing. The Iban have a well developed sense of humor. Overall the plot is enjoyable. I'm not a fan of romances, but this was well done and gave a unique glimpse into a people who are still very much the same to this day (minus the actual head hunting).

If you have ever dreamed of an adventure in Borneo, watch this will convince you of the beauty and the need to go.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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