...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

March 13, 2006

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - 7

This is the story of Enron, its rise and fall, up until the present (The ending is still yet to come because of long trials). This documentary is based on the book by the same name, and the authors are major contributors to the films narrative. The film points out early on that Enron is not about numbers, it is about the loss of a moral compass in the organizational culture. The film does a good job of explaining the way Enron made its money (energy user's, mostly in California, and Wall Street investment banks). The major players in the film are the Chairman of the board Ken Lay, CEO Jeff Skilling, and CFO Andrew Fastow. They all had good business ideas, but as the pressure to keep stock prices high they began to lie and depend exclusively on future earnings that could not be guaranteed. The film does a good job of not showing individuals as villains, rather it points out that human frailty allows greed and pride to take seed and over grow its boundaries. At the same time it is interesting how much personal responsibility these men have taken for their actions. One of the most compelling story lines of the film is the short section on J. Clifford Baxter, who had made Enron his identity, and its failure was his failure, he committed suicide. It is a powerful film that helps the viewer reflect on the human condition, and the challenge to keep pride and greed at bay.

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