A&E Home Video
MSRP: $19.95
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
“Crash: The Next Great Depression Documentary”

The Pitch

How do you steal $65 billion?

The Humans

Bernard Madoff

The Nutshell

Bernard Madoff is one of the most successful con men of all time. This documentary shows how so many people were fooled by his Ponzi scheme.

Be prepared for a lot of heavy-handed Lego and House of Cards metaphors.

The Lowdown

The story of Bernard Madoff is fascinating one, as would be expected from the perpetrator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He serves as a symbol of the financial mismanagement that led to worst crash of the stock market since the Great Depression. However, the fact that Madoff has operated his investment firm since 1960 seems to challenge the idea that he was simply in the right place at the right time. With the incredible charisma and intelligence he employed in his fraud, it makes one wonder where he would be if he had attempted to earn his money legitimately.

“Yes, it is true. This man has no dick.”

That of course causes speculation as to whether he started his company with this mind or if this is just how it ended up. It is a testament to the strength of his personality and a key reason why he was able to succeed for so long. No one wanted to believe that Madoff was bad and staked their fortunes and the fortunes of their families on that trust. It was with that trust in mind that Madoff courted various charitable organizations. They were the perfect mark for someone like him, not only did they lend legitimacy to his firm, but they spent very little of their invested funds, five percent according to this documentary.

“Mr. Madoff, not only do we find you guilty of fraud, but we find you guilty of bad taste.”

This is one of the many tactics that Madoff employed to become so successful in his fraud. This program does an excellent job of explaining how the Ponzi worked and how Madoff avoided prosecution for so long. Disappointingly, it is unable to give a firm answer as to whether his business was ever legitimate. When you realize how closely his family has been involved with his company since day one, it is easier to see why Madoff has been so tight-lipped about this particular fact. There is room for endless speculation, which is part of what makes this story so interesting. It will likely remain interesting until the next financial fraud comes along to dwarf Bernie’s ill-gotten gains.

The Package

The Bonus documentary, “Crash: The Next Great Depression?”, may actually be more interesting than the feature program. It paints interesting parallels between the Great Depression and our current recession. It explores the successful and failed policies of the previous era and how they are currently being applied. It is careful to note that there are no guarantees since no two historical events are exactly alike and the Great Depression was ultimately ended by World War II. It serves as great context for the Madoff documentary and effectively doubles the content on the disc.

7.0 out of 10