Indy Film Fest



Kate Pell Guest post by  Kate Pell
Bio: Supporter of cool things & cool people. Lover of previews & movie trailers. Communicator at the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

According to The Ecstasy of Order, two out of three Americans have played Tetris, a video game released by Nintendo in the late 80s. And if you are like me, the second you hear that techno-Greek music start to play, your heart rate jumps a few beats, your eyes glance to the top of the television screen, and your right hand starts hunting for the red A and B keys.

For those who might not have had the luxury of growing up in the 1980s to early-’90s, Tetris is a game of strategy and split-second decisions. It plays to one’s innate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In 30 levels—the final level is one of myth and lore—players must arrange seven different blocks that fall from the top of the screen to build solid rows. The speed with which the blocks fall increases with each level. When a row is complete it is eliminated from the screen and pieces move down. Points are given for speed and the number of rows deleted.

The Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters is a documentary of one man’s quest to find the ultimate Tetris player. The movie follows a handful of men and women fighting for one of eight spots in the playoffs. Profiles are done split screen with the interviewee typically in front of the TV, controller in hand. The other half of the screen shows the game that he or she is playing. The split screen is a perfect device for this film; watching the change in concentration and anxiety as players move up in levels is made better by seeing the game in action.

What I love about documentaries like The Ecstasy of Order is that they make something commonplace interesting. This film lifts the veil—or opens the basement door—on a subculture typically overlooked and misunderstood. It shows the true artistry and brainpower of gaming.

Over the course of the 90-minute film, we learn the tips and tricks of the trade, and how seemingly impossible moves are now possible. We learn that a plastic controller can turn “mushy.” We learn that Tetris is a game so complex and varied that even MIT couldn’t build a computer to beat it. We learn that winning is not about looking only at your current situation, but anticipating the next three, four, five moves.

And, gamers or not, we can all stand to learn that lesson.

Adam Cornelius 2011
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

View the trailer:

The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!

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  1. I agree. This movie details the obsessions of a a specifc group of obsessives. And whether or not the audience follows is specifically not the point. We get to watch the best and the brightest shine the brightest light on this obsessions. We learn the quantitative facts, but the movie is focusing on the people who hae already learned it. Whether or not you could be moved by the changing of the elit Tetris guard is irrelevent. You become moved by the participants involved. When the means come to the film’s end. The highest stakes for all the films’ participants get reached. And the film is made with a closeness which reaches every hightened feeling of loss and gain within those faces. Our thubs get to spare the agony.

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