25 October 2011 | KnightsofNi11
Hilarious, yet heartwarming
Anybody with access to the even the most rudimentary forms of modern technology has most certainly played a game or two of the ever popular Nintendo game Tetris. If you're like most people, then you are a casual Tetris player, firing up the game on your cell phone or iPad every once in a while for some mindless time killing. If you're not one of these people then you are either someone who never plays the game or you are considered to be "hardcore." Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters is a documentary about the greatest Tetris players in the world who all come together for the first ever Tetris tournament, where the true master of Tetris will be crowned. I was lucky enough to catch this excellent little film at the Austin Film Festival this past weekend, and was even lucky enough to watch the film with two of the masters in attendance, Thor Aackerlund and Robin Mihara. It was a fantastic experience and a great way to watch an even greater film.
If you saw the movie King of Kong then you will likely know what to roughly expect from Ecstasy of Order. This mentions familiar names like Billy Mitchell, Twin Galaxies Arcade, and one of the Tetris masters actually mentions seeing the film King of Kong. However, don't think that Ecstasy of Order is just the same story with a different arcade game. It is absolutely not. It makes its fair share of references, but it is a whole new story with all new people who are just as entertaining, if not more so, than the ones in King of Kong. It's an ensemble cast of strange and quirky people who all have their own offbeat personalities and are all absolutely incredible at Tetris. You fall in love with these people and in a quick hour and a half you feel like you know them all well enough to be their best friend. It's incredible how entertaining and compelling a documentary, about Tetris of all things, can be.
If nothing else, Ecstasy of Order is just a ridiculously entertaining film. There's never a dull moment and someone is also doing or saying something hilarious. Ecstasy of Order doesn't push any kind of gamer nerd stereotype and the people in the film are never taking themselves too seriously. They only do it to have fun, and that fun reflects back to the audience in an incredibly compelling way. These are such unique people and this glimpse into their lives is so fascinating and tells such an emotionally driven and human story. It's rare that we see such a strong narrative and such great people in documentaries. Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters is one of a kind.