Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
At this writing in early 2006, the principal players in the sordid drama of Enron — believed by some accusers to be the most egregious corporate malefactors in American history — are about to go on trial for pillaging their company and devaluing its stock, leaving thousands of employees and investors holding the bag while they absconded with millions.
Alex Gibney’s documentary examines the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of this Houston, Texas-based firm, which for a time made its top officers wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, and all by engaging in business practices alleged to have been little more than a complex shell game.
Enron founder Ken Lay and his successor as CEO, Jeff Skilling, are pretty well skewered in Gibney’s film, which in its own way is every bit as riveting as a suspense thriller. Without putting too fine a point of it, the film has all the elements of Greek tragedy; it is hubris that ultimately brings down the main characters. Arrogance, pride, power, the abuse of power – they’re all here.