On the Internet Archive, there are quite a good number of well-made documentaries from the past ten-or-so years. One of them is Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room. As the title implies, it is about the rise and fall of the energy corporation Enron.
The Enron scandal, unravelled shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, is considered to be one of the worst cases of corporate fraud ever committed. As a result of the scandal, tens of thousands of employees and private shareholders lost huge savings, in many cases resulting in personal disaster.
The documentary points out three major perpetrators to Enron’s criminal and unethical actions: The founder and CEO Ken Lay, President Jeff Skilling, and Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow.
The narrative structure of Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room is fairly straight-forward by today’s standards. A narrator guides us past many interviews, TV news clippings and senate hearings, as well as various audio and video recordings for internal Enron use. There are also interior and exterior shots of the main offices, and of course the mandatory flashbacks to education and early careers of the central persons.
The whole mix is presented in a believable and appealing way. The conclusions, including some interesting speculation on what caused so much callousness and greed, seem to hold up when I double-check some other Internet sources on the subject.
This film is best enjoyed if you have been pondering questions of good versus evil in mankind and want some more food for thought.
Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room
Running time: 1 h 49 min
Director: Alex Gibney
Image quality: Excellent
Resolution: Medium (720×416)
Sound quality: Excellent
Best file format: Cinepack (1.5 G)