In Tetris, Robert Maxwell tries to use Mikhail Gorbachev’s influence to get ELORG to license the Tetris rights to his company, Mirrorsoft. However, instead of helping him, Gorbachev orders the arrest of the man who was helping the Maxwells.
Tetris is a film that is based on true events. The figure of Mikhail Gorbachev in the film is also based on a historical figure — the last leader of the Soviet Union, also known as the USSR.
The USSR was a communist country that was ruled by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the party from 1985 until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
The film’s events take place in the late 1980s, a period when the Cold War between the two world superpowers, the US and the USSR, was still going on and the internal problems of the USSR were becoming increasingly apparent.
Gorbachev, as the leader of the country, knew what the citizens of his country desired. He understood that the USSR needed to change with time, a sentiment that resonates in the film.
Did Gorbachev play a part in the acquisition of Tetris’ rights?
The people of the USSR did not enjoy the same freedom that people in democratic countries did; in the film, Alexey tells Henk that it is illegal to invite a foreigner to one’s house.
The corrupt bureaucrats often misused their power and influence, as seen in the figure of Valentin. This created discontent among the citizens, who were starting to demand more freedom; Gorbachev’s character in the film also talks about this.
Robert Maxwell, the owner of Mirrorsoft, had indeed approached Gorbachev in real life to prevent Nintendo from getting the video game and handheld rights to Tetris.
In Tetris, Gorbachev tells Robert Maxwell that the world is changing and that the USSR will not be left behind. In real life as well, Gorbachev had started democratizing the USSR at this time.
Since Gorbachev had introduced new policies and wanted his country to make profitable deals, Robert Maxwell could not do much to prevent the deal; Maxwell was in debt and did not have the money to offer the same deal as Nintendo.
However, the film is not a documentary, which means that not all the events in the film are true. There is no way to confirm if Gorbachev got Valentin arrested or not, as seen in the film.
On the other hand, it is true that eventually due to the large-scale protests, Gorbachev had to resign and the Soviet Union dissolved, bringing the Cold War to an end.
Also Read: Sasha: Tetris character explained