The Sleeping Dictionary

The Sleeping Dictionary poster

The Sleeping Dictionary poster

I had bought The Sleeping Dictionary movie DVD long time ago. But I didn’t like watching it as its name was… well… too academic. But few weeks ago when I didn’t have anything else to watch I thought if watching it. I felt like knocking my head against the door for not watching such a beautiful story for this long. It is such a beautiful movie. The movie was released in 2003 as an American romantic drama. The film was written and directed by Guy Jenkin and starring Hugh Dancy, Jessica Alba, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, and Bob Hoskins. Till I read on Wikipedia page about the movie I never knew it was Jessica Alba who played Selima in the film. She was so local. I don’t know how makeup artists made her so Malaysian. The Sleeping Dictionary was filmed on location in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Jessica Alba and Hugh Dancy

Jessica Alba and Hugh Dancy

The British government sends a young Englishman (John) to Sarawak in the 1930s to become part of the British colonial government. He is supposed to mainly teach English to the local community there. There he is surprised by strange local traditions.  He finds himself attracted to a young local beauty. According to the local traditions, the girl selects him as his choice to become his “sleeping dictionary.” The tradition goes that the girl is to sleep with the young British officer and in turn, he is to teach her English and she is to teach him the local language!!! I wish such arrangements are still present in Sarawak. I am kidding; the world has changed a lot since colonial days. Surprisingly John, the English officer refuses to sleep with Selima saying that is not ethical. (Robert Knox also shared the same view when it comes to sleeping with Ceylonese women as he thought it was against Christian values and it was nothing but whoring.)

Hugh-in-The-Sleeping-Dictionary-hugh-dancy-5124874-1056-592 (1)

But later, failing to stop loving Selima as she is so cute and devoted to John, he finally falls for her. The two find themselves falling into a forbidden love. When their plans to marry are revealed, they lock Selima up. Selima then agrees to marry a local boy due to the tribe’s insistence. John and Selima part ways. You need to watch the movie to see whether they are united again.








One thought on “The Sleeping Dictionary

  1. Wanni, Jessica Alba’s mother is of European ancestry and her father is Mexican American. See below her racial mix (DNA). No wonder she looks Asian in the film.

    In 2014, Alba appeared in Henry Louis Gates’ genealogy series Finding Your Roots, where her lineage was traced back to the ancient Mayan civilization. The show’s research indicated that the surname Alba did not come from a Spaniard, since her father’s direct paternal line (Y-DNA) was Haplogroup Q-M3, Native American in origin. Her father’s matrilineal line (Mtdna) showed Sephardi Jewish roots, and DNA testing revealed that lawyer Alan Dershowitz is a genetic relative of hers. Jessica’s global admixture was 72.7% European, 22.5% East Asian/Native American, 2% Sub-Saharan African, 0.3% Middle Eastern/North African, 0.1% South Asian, and 2.4% “No Match”.


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