Review: How Tetris Escaped the Iron Curtain

The Apple TV+ film tells the story of an entrepreneur who helped bring a Soviet designer's game to the world.


If you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance you like honest capitalism, global trade, property rights, and technology—and maintain a healthy disdain for Soviet communism. Anyone who fits that profile will find something to enjoy about Tetris, a new feature film on the Apple TV+ streaming service.

Tetris tells the (mostly) true story of Henk Rogers, an international entrepreneur who overcame the treacheries of both fraudulent megacorporations and Gorbachev-era communist apparatchiks to obtain the global distribution rights to a falling-block puzzle game that became a generational sensation.

Tetris took off in the late 1980s when Rogers not only obtained the rights to the game but convinced the video game company Nintendo to package it with their Game Boy. But the fight over game rights put him in conflict with both dodgy media tycoon Robert Maxwell and members of the Soviet Communist Party.

Eventually, Rogers secured the rights and formed a company with the game's Russian inventor, Alexey Pajitnov, that helped make Tetris one of the most successful video games of all time. It's a happy story of the triumph of good-faith cross-borders entrepreneurship, cross-cultural connection, and small-business hustle over self-dealing fraudsters in both big business and tyrannical government.