Is Tetris’ Valentin Trifonov Based on a Real Politician?

If there’s one thing Apple TV+’s ‘Tetris’ succeeds in doing, it’s making it clear this relatively simple and addictive titular video game has a history that we can only describe as highly complicated. That’s because it was invented by a Soviet computer programmer in the 1980s and thus had to follow communism licensing rules since they didn’t even recognize intellectual property back then. Yet for now, if you simply wish to learn more about the one individual to have intrigued us the most throughout this original film — corrupt politician Valentin Trifonov — we’ve got you covered.

Who Is Valentin Trifonov?

Well, to be honest, the answer to whether the character of Valentin Trifonov in this Jon Baird-directed production is inspired by a real-life Communist Party Leader or not is a little complicated. After all, no report has ever even implied that the 1989 Tetris licensing+distribution deal had the direct involvement of the Central Committee, Government Trade Departments, or KGB Agents. On the other hand, a high-level, far-left Soviet politician by the same name did exist, and he did play a notable role in establishing the Bolshevik statute, but it was way back in the early 1900s.

Therefore, it appears as if writer Noah Pink merely included Valentin as well as personalities like Sasha in ‘Tetris’ to give it more of a spy thriller narrative instead of keeping it purely biographical. “We’re not doing this documentary version of [the Tetris story],” the director himself said in an interview before clarifying that creative liberties were taken to develop the movie as best as possible. “…You know, to make a two-hour version of it, you need to sort of Hollywood-ize, if that’s a word, the tale.”

Even the game’s inventor, Alexey Pajitnov, added, “We did our part to make it as truthful as possible… At the end of the day, we have our lives squeezed into the very short two-hour movie, and some exaggeration is kind of natural at that point. But I want to say that, spiritually and emotionally, it’s a very right and very truthful story told from the screen.” So yes, the presence of Valentin at nearly every step of the way in this incredible Apple TV+ film is apparently a well-stretched, inaccurate aspect.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

However, it is still likely reel Valentin’s core defining attributes were taken either directly or indirectly from the real Bolshevik far-left activist, Soviet communist politician, and Cossack revolutionary leader. He was actually born on September 8, 1888, into a Cossack (Ukrainian-Southern Russia) family, only to join the Bolshevik faction in 1904 at the age of 16 prior to diligently participating in the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Valentin even played a crucial role in forming Russia’s Red Army, leading him to then have the prominence to establish Soviet rule in the entire Don Voisko Province (or the Don Cossack Host Oblast). Plus, he led the Expeditionary Corps Division while also serving as the Revolutionary Committee’s first Chairman during the civil war before undertaking a few other posts and presiding over the Supreme Court Military Collegium.

Nevertheless, Valentin’s unwavering dedication to the Communist Party did not save him during the heinous Great Purge (1936-1938) under General Secretary Joseph Stalin’s power campaign. The former was actually arrested prior to being executed on March 15, 1938, just to be posthumously rehabilitated thanks to his surviving wife, daughter, as well as son — the latter was 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature contender Yury Trifonov.

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