6.6/10
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54 user 8 critic

The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)

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2:28 | Trailer

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A young Englishman is sent to Malaysian Borneo in the 1930s to stay with a tribe as UK's colonial representative. A local woman (J.Alba) helps him understand local tradition and language. He falls in love with her etc. despite the taboo.

Director:

Guy Jenkin

Writer:

Guy Jenkin
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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: Azazel Jacobs
Stars: Tricia Vessey, Liz Stauber, Norman Reedus
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jessica Alba ... Selima
Brenda Blethyn ... Aggie
Hugh Dancy ... John Truscott
Bob Hoskins ... Henry
Christopher Ling Lee Ian Christopher Ling Lee Ian ... Jasmine
Junix Inocian ... Famous
Michael Jessing Langgi Michael Jessing Langgi ... Melaka
Mano Maniam Mano Maniam ... Policeman
K.K. Moggie ... Tipong
Emily Mortimer ... Cecil
Cicilia Anak Richard Cicilia Anak Richard ... Jester Woman
Malcolm Rogers Malcolm Rogers ... Vicar
Eugene Salleh Eugene Salleh ... Belansai
Noah Taylor ... Neville
Kate Helen White Kate Helen White ... Mandar
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Storyline

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 rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Learn to speak her language.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fine Line Features Article

Country:

UK | USA | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 January 2003 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Kärlekens lexikon See more »

Filming Locations:

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Neville: What did you say to her?
John Truscott: Oh I told Tipong that if you hit her again she should wait till you're asleep and then cut off your testicles with a kitchen knife.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Mango Tango
Written by Alex Heffes
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User Reviews

 
Beautiful social history
13 July 2003 | by diane-34See all my reviews

My wife and I watched this film not knowing anything about it except a two sentence introduction on a movie-card. We were impressed by all aspects of it-particularly the substance of the script-it was a brave script-a script that should have made people uncomfortable because of the swipes taken at British colonialism and what that evil did on a personal level to everybody concerned. Living as I do in Western Australia, the dark legacy of European colonialism is just below the surface and I have seen firsthand the outlines of the story presented in "The Sleeping Dictionary"-not of course the same geography or the same details but once colonialism left its tread on the floor of world history it matters little the particulars.

The enormity of the personal tragedy of that period is something not to be derisively dismissed as one commentator remarked-as a film fit for screening at the old folks home on a Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately the world is still dealing with that evil period of recent history.

I was moved by all the decisions that the characters faced throughout the film. Brenda Blethyn's character as the wife of Hoskin's colonial official was as much a victim as anybody in the film. Although she emerges as the "baddie" she must try, with little background, to stitch together a semblance of what she feels is an acceptable canvas in order to paint her English life-such of it as there is in Sarawak. And what of Hoskin's torn character-a man who can only fall back on "duty" to country in order to find reason for the completion of duties that he recognizes as damaging to all involved.

A brave film-look for it!


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