Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room

500 Days Of Film Reviews Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room And Finds A Shocking Story Of Greed

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, tells the story behind one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent years. 

Based on the book of the same name by Bethany McLean, the documentary, directed by Alex Gibney, features key insider accounts, shocking audio recordings and incredible video footage. 

The film exposes those responsible for the collapse of Enron - many of whom walked away with millions after destroying the company and ruining hundreds of lives.

It is hard to believe that Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room was released 10 years ago. Sadly, this documentary still feels all too relevant today. In addition, the events that led to the collapse of Enron are no less shocking with the passage of time.

I watched Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room back when it was first released in 2005. I decided to watch it again because I remembered how very powerful this film is and I wanted it to be a part of my recent documentary watching marathon.

This is a truly gripping film. It has all the key ingredients - drama, corruption, sex, drugs and senseless greed - for a shocking, twisted crime story.

I was a derivatives journalist at the time of Enron’s collapse. Enron even sponsored one of the magazines that I created and edited. That is quite the sobering thought. 

As a journalist covering new markets, I watched Enron with interest. This was an incredibly innovative company and that, of course, made for some great news stories. 

No one that I worked with knew just how rotten Enron was at its core. It was not until Fortune magazine’s Bethany McLean questioned Enron’s quarterly statements that the house of cards imploded.


Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room features interviews with McLean and with Enron whistleblower, Sherron Watkins. I have tremendous respect for both women - it can’t have been easy to stand up to Enron in the way that they did.

Using their accounts, dramatic reconstructions and audio and video footage from the time, the pieces of the story come together. Superbly narrated by Peter Coyote, the documentary is remarkably accessible given the level of complexity involved.

Of course, Enron did not only cause devastation in the financial markets. One of the most shocking parts of this film concerns the company’s manipulation of California’s energy market. It reveals how Enron created a fake energy crisis that caused the state to experience several blackouts even though there was never any shortage of power.

The scale of corruption is  still hard to comprehend. The callousness of the traders involved (whose actual conversations are heard in the film) is unforgivable. 

We now know exactly who was responsible for the Enron collapse. Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room shows us how they did it and exposes how, when the game was up, they fled the sinking ship like the rats they were - clutching millions of dollars each. 

Random Observations

Have you seen Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room?

If so, I would really like to know what you thought of this shocking documentary. Leave me a comment in the box below :)

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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