clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This video has everything: Revolution. The struggle of the proletariat. Tetris.

Sure, you're familiar with Russian history. Rise of communism, fall of communism. Lenin. Stalin. Yeltsin. Putin. But have you seen the country's entire history explained in less than seven minutes? Via the Tetris song? Using Tetris as a metaphor for the plight of oppressed workers?

Well, then, today is your day.

The video above, from the British musical comedy duo Pig With the Face of a Boy, first came out in 2010, but it remains a timeless classic. Its hero is a laborer inside a Tetris game ("I am the man who arranges the blocks!"), who narrates the rise and fall of the Soviet Union in one seven-minute song about the struggles of proletarian tessellation.

Long live Lenin, kill the czar! We salute the sickle and star!

At the beginning of the song, our narrator is an angry worker in Moscow: "To Moscow I came seeking fortune / But they’re making me work 'til I’m dead."

He labors at block-arranging, longing for "a long one please," and he bitterly despairs that the blocks keep unceasingly descending upon him, while "The bourgeoisie have it so easy / The czar's putting gold on his bread."

But then his revolutionary fervor finally catches on: "Come, Muscovite! Let the workers unite! / A collective regime of peace and love."

The czar is overthrown in the Russian revolution of 1917, and a new socialist republic rises in its place. "Come, Muscovite! Let the workers unite! / A collective regime of peace and love."

The Fuhrer is dead, and Europe is Red! Let us point all our guns at the USA.

But socialist paradise eludes our hero, who instead finds himself with no choice but to follow the dictates of the state-run Soviet economy. "I have no choice in arranging the blocks / Under Bolshevik rule, what they say goes."

Not that he dares to protest: "Long live Stalin! He loves you! / Sing these words, or you know what he’ll do..."

He does get a brief respite from tessellation during World War II, however, during which he arranges tanks, not blocks. "I am the man who arranges the tanks / That will make all the Nazis keep away."

Those efforts are successful. Nazi Germany is defeated — which means it's time for the Cold War to begin. "The Fuhrer is dead, and Europe is Red! / Let us point all our guns at the USA."

Now he is arranging blocks for a new purpose. "I am the man who arranges the blocks / That are building a highly secret base."

The US gave us crystal meth, and Yeltsin drank himself to death

Eventually the Soviet Union collapses. "And now the wall is down, the Marxists frown / There’s foreign shops all over town."

But for our hero, little has changed. "I am the man who arranges the blocks / That continue to fall from up above / The markets are free! So much money for me! / Tell me, why should I care for peace and love?"

And while capitalism brings excitement, it also comes with a host of problems. "When in Red Square, well don’t despair / There’s Levi’s and McDonald’s there."

"The US gave us crystal meth / And Yeltsin drank himself to death."

But now that Putin’s put the boot in, Who’ll get in our way?

The song ends on an ominous note. "But now that Putin’s put the boot in," asks our narrator, "who’ll get in our way?"

Not neighboring ex-Soviet nations like Georgia, where Russia backed a separatist movement that has left the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia stuck in so-called "frozen conflicts." "We shall regain the Georgian soil / We shall obtain the Arctic oil."

This video was made years before Russia invaded Crimea and backed a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine, but its foreshadowing is chilling. Perhaps it's time for a new verse?