“He Is A Tragic Figure”: Dune 2 Director Denis Villeneuve Addresses Stilgar’s Scenes Being Meme’d

This article contains spoilers from Dune: Part Two.


Summary

  • Denis Villeneuve was not surprised by how people reacted to Stilgar’s blind faith, noting that was the intention.
  • Stilgar has been meme’d on social media, particularly when he says ”
    as written
    .”
  • Stilgar’s belief in Paul Atreides as the messiah showcases the humor and tragedy that will be consequential in the protagonist’s pursuits in the holy war.


Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve shares his thoughts on Stilgar (Javier Bardem) becoming a meme since the movie’s release. Stilgar is a devout believer that Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is the Lisan al Gaib, the Fremen’s term for their prophesied messiah. This has spawned countless memes with Stilgar uttering, “Lisan al Gaib,” with many of the memes featuring his gaping expression as he watches Paul ride a sandworm for the first time.

In an interview with The New York Times, Villeneuve was asked whether he was surprised by audiences laughing when Stilgar speaks due to the humorous memes that are associated with his character. Villeneuve’s answer is a definitive “No”, as he does not view this reaction as viewers mocking or misunderstanding Stilgar. On the contrary, the audience’s reaction aligns with Villeneuve’s intent behind his depiction of Stilgar. Read Villeneuve’s comments below:


I am very happy when you say that he is a tragic figure. For me,
he is the most tragic figure of all
. The idea to bring humor to Stilgar was to make him lovable, to feel the humanity in that character. He’s not an austere figure, he has a big heart. But his beliefs, his faith, his reactions bring humor — and that is something I love about making a sci-fi film, because I can talk about that without offending people because it’s a fake religion. I designed all the prayers myself, so I know it’s fake. I find Stilgar very funny. And
when people laugh, I’m happy because that was the intention
.

All his life he has been raised with that dream. So I suggest that every time a guy comes from outside with a lot of charisma, he hopes he’s found him. Like in the Bible, we have tons of prophets before Jesus came.



Stilgar Is Both Humorous And Tragic

He Is A Firm Believer In Paul Being The Messiah.

In the second half of the film, the same religious fervor that was previously funny becomes much more sinister as Stilgar’s blind faith is integral to pushing Paul further down the path that will make him a tyrant responsible for genocide across the universe.

Villeneuve’s answer proves that the humor and tragedy of Stilgar’s character are not mutually exclusive. In the first half of Dune: Part Two, it is genuinely funny to see Stilgar confidently asserting that every little thing Paul does is a sign that he is the Lisan al Gaib. When Paul outright denies that, Stilgar only sees it as a sign that he is the messiah, as only Lisan al Gaib would be so humble. Bardem’s performance and Villeneuve’s direction make these moments endearing and comical.


Related

Why Stilgar Believes Paul Is Lisan Al Gaib: 6 Signs & Reasons In Dune 2

Although it’s due to the Bene Gesserit that Paul cultivated power and influence on Arrakis, Stilgar was one of the Fremen who believed in the signs.

In the second half of the film, the same religious fervor that was previously funny becomes much more sinister as Stilgar’s blind faith is integral to pushing Paul further down the path that will make him a tyrant responsible for genocide across the universe. The humor is gone as Stilgar begs Paul to take his life, or when he triumphantly cheers as the Holy War begins during Dune: Part Two‘s ending. It is tragic to see Stilgar, a smart and capable leader of the Fremen, being fully consumed by his fanaticism, and the consequences that such fanaticism brings.


Dune has always been a cautionary tale of religious zealotry, with Stilgar being one of the most important characters to embody this theme. The humor in the Stilgar memes is consistent with the character and the themes of Dune: Part Two, presenting the hilarious absurdity of believing that everything Paul says and does is proof of him being the messiah. The humor enhances the danger of what Stilgar represents rather than undermining it, and the impact will be important for Dune: Part Three.

Dune: Part Two
is currently playing in theaters.

Source: The New York Times

Dune Part 2 Poster Showing Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Zendaya as Chani Holding Daggers

Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two is the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film that covers the novel’s events by Frank Herbert. The movie continues the quest of Paul Atreides on a journey of revenge against those who slew his family. With insight into the future, Atreides may be forced to choose between his one true love and the universe’s fate. 

Release Date
March 1, 2024

Studio(s)
Legendary Pictures

Distributor(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Runtime
165 Minutes

Budget
$122 Million