Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
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The inside story of one of history's greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America's seventh largest company walked away with over one billion dollars, while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best selling book.
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One thing I really enjoyed was seeing Bethany MacLean offering her insight into the company during different segments. This was important to me since she is the author of the Forbes article that questioned how Enron was making money (before the scandal broke). Another interesting feature of the film is that it offers audio clips of traders laughing at how they were taking advantage of the state of California during a rolling brown-out (which they manufactured) by selling them electricity at obscene rates. Other video/audio clips are incorporated to let the viewer see/hear the disdain Enron's leadership had for others in their own words.
The film doesn't go too deeply into the specifics that only an accountant or attorney would understand, however the producers do provide plenty of evidence of the criminal behavior as well as the manipulation by Enron's leadership of others for its own ill-gotten gain. This film also provides insight into a large number of different schemes Fastow and Skilling used to fraudulently report revenue as well as hide debt from the balance sheet in order to make its earnings look much better than they actually were.
This is a good film to get an overview of how bad Enron was before its collapse. I would recommend anyone who wants a basic understanding of the rise and fall of Enron to see this movie.
Being that it’s a documentary, one always has to question the biases of the filmmakers involved. But the fraud, abuse, arrogance, and about twenty-seven other adjectives that a person could use that occurred at Enron really overpower any color or shading that the filmmakers may have put forward. 20,000 people lost their jobs and thousands of employees barely had enough retirement money left for dinner at Burger King, while top executives skated off with millions (well before their prison terms that is…)
A documentary case of American Corporate Culture gone bananas that will make you equal parts sad and mad. The only question I have left is “How much has really changed”? Given what we know about the global financial crisis.