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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Enron-The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Enron-The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

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Released 5-Jul-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Trailer-Dendy Titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 104:46 (Case: 110)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alex Gibney

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring John Beard
George W. Bush
Jim Chanos
Dick Cheney
Carol Coale
Peter Coyote
Gray Davis
Reggie Dees II
Joseph Dunn
Max Eberts
Peter Elkind
Andrew Fastow
David Freeman
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Matthew Hauser

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It took Enron 16 years to go from a $US10 billion company to a $US65 billion company.

    It took them 24 days to go bankrupt.

    Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room details with amazing clarity (a tricky thing considering how complicated some of the financial and accounting practices are to comprehend) the rise and subsequent fall - no make that spectacular free-falling, cataclysmic crash and burn of one of America's biggest companies in the latter part of 2001, taking with it the life savings and benefits of thousands of people, while the greedy corporate executives in charge of this diaster walked away with millions after cashing in their stock holdings just before the share-price went into free fall.

    The documentary by director Alex Gibney chronicles how this Houston, Texas-based company grew from a small energy player into the biggest energy trading company in the world, starting with smug chairman Ken "Kenny Boy" Lay's prophetic gamble on the deregulation of the US energy markets in the 1980s to become the seventh largest corporation in the country by 2000 with a market capitalisation of more than $US65 billion.

    Lay (who died last year of a heart attack before he could be sentenced), with the aid of  brilliant and daring CEO Jeff Skilling and cunning chief financial officer Andy Fastow invoked a devilish accounting scheme called "mark to market". Amazingly attaining federal government and auditor approval this dodgy accounting practice allowed Enron to book and report revenue they had yet to earn. Imagine telling someone you were going to one day win lotto and as a result would like to claim those revenues of a few million bucks today, despite the fact you may never actually realise any of the money. This is exactly what Enron managed to do. What it meant was the company looked like it was making bucketloads of money, when in reality cash flows were significantly less. The result was a share price out of control and a bunch of market analysts blinded by the brilliance of messrs Lay, Skilling and Fastow telling all their clients to buy all the Enron stock they could get their hands on. Enron was a house of cards built over a pool of gasoline is the analogy used in the documentary to describe the company. Basically it was only going to be a matter of time before things went boom.

    With the share price going into the stratosphere, watch as the super-confident Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling skilfully play the media, the stock analysts and their employees. In the early days these guys could do no wrong. They were effectively the golden-boy architects behind a completely new business model - treating energy as a commodity with the price left to the market. Enron was the biggest player in this market and one that every other player and energy utility deferred to - they made money without even trying. But as a result of books cooked better than a well-done steak and cash flows significantly less than the stock market thought, it was about to come to a crashing halt. It started to unravel slowly in late 1999 as the California power crisis hit. Rolling blackouts hit the state for nearly a year, despite the fact there was plenty of excess generation capacity available. The main cause of this was the way Enron traded energy - artificially manipulating supply below the level of consumer demand - the result was a higher energy price albeit an artificially created one - and cranky consumers who couldn't boil their kettle. It all finally came crashing down in 2001 as several people started asking the simple questions about Enron's business model - like exactly where was all this supposed money coming from. Meanwhile Lay, Skilling, and Fastow were telling anyone who would listen that the company had never looked better, but they were secretly pocketing millions after dumping their stock holdings. On 2 December 2001, Enron declared bankruptcy - the biggest ever in America at the time, leaving more than 20,000 employees without jobs and their retirement funds and thousands of investors looking for somebody to sue.

    This is a documentary that will leave you shaking your head many times over. You will wonder aloud at the sheer bravado and gumption of the greedy executives in charge of this corporate behemoth. Based on the book The Smartest Guys In The Room by Fortune magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind this is a modern-day tragedy. If Wall Street's Gordon Gecko were a real person, there is almost no doubt he would be somehow involved with Enron.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is slightly different to the theatrical aspect ratio which was 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    The film contains a ton of archival and news footage from various sources including commercial television reports, congressional and senate hearings and in-house Enron training and propaganda videos. This means you shouldn't expect too much in terms of pristine, vibrant or colourful images here. The new interview material is clear and sharp, while grain and all manner of noise and artefacts are present on much of the other footage.

    Colours aren't exactly what I'd call vibrant, but the style of film and the content matter presented doesn't really call for heaps of bright colour.

    There are no MPEG or film-to-video artefacts, except for a little macro-blocking in some of the very low resolution corporate video-style footage. Film artefacts are also mostly absent in the new material, but often dominate the archival footage.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single layered so there is no layer change with which to contend.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This documentary comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

    Being a soundtrack dominated by narration and interviews, it really doesn't need the use of all six speakers - which is just as well because it really only uses the front three. It is mostly anchored to the centre channel for much of the running time, with a bit of separation across the front speakers. Dialogue is clear and there are no audio sync problems.

    Despite being a full 5.1 soundtrack, there is little surround channel or subwoofer usage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    Four trailers for other Magna Pacific titles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on;

    With an absolute mountain of bonus material it is a clear win to the Region 1 disc.


    Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room is a documentary not to be missed. The filthy excesses and greed of corporations are on display for all to see. You will be left shaking your head at how these guys managed to get away with this fraud for so long and how the Californian and Federal US governments effectively allowed it all to happen with their deregulation agendas. It should be a lesson to all.

    The video quality is quite good for a film that uses many different quality source elements.

    The audio is functional. The inclusion of a 5.1 surround soundtrack is bit of overkill, but it is clean and clear.

    There are no meaningful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PX600A 42" Plasma. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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