The Differend

Manuel Saiz

2002, 19:38 minutes, colour, Spanish, English, French, Italian, Russian, Greek, Swedish,
Mandarin, Japanese, Portuguese and German


"One side's legitimacy does not imply the other's lack of legitimacy. However, applying a single rule of judgment to both in order to settle their differend as though it were merely a litigation would wrong (at least) one of them (and both of them if neither side admits this rule)." - Jean François Lyotard

Lyotard's term for a dispute resulting from the fact that one party cannot voice her complaints (or points) because the other insists on speaking within a different language game or genre of discourse.

The starting point of the work is a scene of William Wyler's The Collector (1965), in which the two main characters, a man and a woman, argue about a Picasso painting. This scene has been reshot in 11 versions that correspond each to a different language (Spanish, English, French, Italian, Russian, Greek, Swedish,
Mandarin, Japanese, Portuguese and German).

To shoot versions in several languages was a common practice in the beginning of sound cinema, when dubbing techniques were not yet developed enough. It was frequent to swap actors in the same sets to shoot the international versions of the film. But sometimes also happens that the same actors were forced to play every version of the film: famous actors were required at all times in the screen because the pressure exerted by the early stars system. That was the case of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, which used to learn by heart the Spanish, Italian, German and French dialogues. Then they delivered it during the shoot with a very characteristic accent that was related, for the audiences of those versions, to what makes them funny.

The Collector is a movie about the contact between to spheres of thinking completely separated of the other, the one of an artists and this of her kidnapper. All attempts to create a common space of communication fail. Performers are heterogeneous even to their own words.

Rental and Sales

Single Screening Rental


Educational Purchase DVD (Bluray +$15)


5 Year Educational Streaming License, Digital File with DVD Circulation Copy


Gallery Exhibition and Installation, complete Media Request form for quote

Institutional Archival Acquisition, complete Media Request form for quote

Curators and programmers, please contact to receive a login and password to preview Vtape titles online.

Screening and exhibition rentals and archival acquisitions include public performance rights; educational purchases or licenses include rights for classroom screenings and library circulation. When placing an order the customer agrees to our general online terms and conditions. Payment (or a purchase order number) and a signed licensing agreement must be received before media can be shipped to the client.