HBO Documentary Films: BECOMING WARREN BUFFETT

By Jef Dinsmore on Feb 4, 2017 to Documentaries

Overview: With a net worth of more than $60 billion, Warren Buffett is truly a one-of-a-kind billionaire. Now 86, the legendary investor still lives in a modest home in Omaha and continues to drive himself to the office every morning to manage Berkshire Hathaway, the fourth-largest public company in the world. But more surprising than his humble lifestyle and self-effacing personality are Buffett’s moral integrity and unique mind, which drove him not only to become the most successful businessman in the world, but also an unparalleled philanthropist.

With unprecedented access to his day-to-day personal life, Becoming Warren Buffett tells the improbable story of how an ambitious, numbers-obsessed boy from Nebraska became one of the richest, most respected men in the world. The definitive documentary on Buffett, this candid portrait sheds new light on a man who has helped shape the way Americans view capitalism and, more recently, philanthropy. Told primarily in Buffett’s own words, the film features never-before-released home videos, family photographs, archival footage and interviews with family and friends.

 

Expectations: Warren Buffett? Okay, I know him as the richest man there is and a respected one at that and that is about as far as it goes. Nothing personal against the guy but he is just not anyone I give thought to. I’m not at all into stocks & Wall St. and the financial state of our times. Consequently, I don’t seek out the people, like Mr. Buffett, who are.

But, I can tell you this; if I were going to watch a documentary about this economic sage it would be this one by the people of Kunhardt Films. I can say that even before seeing one frame of BECOMING WARREN BUFFETT because they have given us previous films in the same vein with NIXON BY NIXON: IN HIS OWN WORDS, GLORIA; IN HER OWN WORDS and one of my favorites from 2016 JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY. I learned to trust the work of director Peter Kunhardt & producers Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt even if it is a subject matter I don’t care for. 

 

Gut Reaction: As you can tell by the lateness of this review I wasn’t itching to see this one for the reason mentioned above. It turns out, however, to be a pretty good documentary. What saved it for me was the fact that Warren Buffett spoke often in his own words. Had this film solely been a number of what I call the ‘talking heads’ spouting off about the life and accomplishments of the man and getting more screen time than him I would have been turned off right away. But, Mr. Buffett sitting before the camera talking back over his life, his job, and his skills made it work. He is a good speaker to us through the lens, which is kind of funny because he spends a little bit of time talking about how awkward socially he was and how he took a public speaking course that he is most proud of completing.

There are quite a few moments, some rather jocular, about Mr. Buffett, including how the stock market affects his breakfast, the fun he had as a youth and how he relates to the world around him today. He likes to have fun in his own way. There are also serious moments, like the raising of the family and the big financial scandal of his career. He only stopped twice to turn away questioning. He balked on his father’s last conversation with him before his father died and stopped short elaborating on the death of his first wife Susan.

Mingling in with his own words are dramatizations of his youth, home movies and interviews with his three children and colleagues. It was really all edited quite well. I’ll admit, though, that there was one brief moment of waning interest when Mr. Buffett was absent and the other interviewees dominated and the Salomon Brothers scandal was discussed. Get me back to Warren! I genuinely liked his turn of phrase, He himself saved this documentary.

 

In Conclusion: Thankfully, for me, this film did not deal too much on the business side of Warren Buffett but more on the private, personable human being that he became. He was willing to play along and tell his story. This film’s title told us it was about how this guy, who in his own words said he was just genetically lucky, became the man he is today. That simple, awkward, numbers-obsessed little boy became a billionaire (lucky for him) and ultimately the greatest philanthropist (lucky for the rest of us). BECOMING WARREN BUFFETT proved to be a great way to know the guy.

 

 Next: We go deep into SOLITARY: INSIDE RED ONION STATE PRISON when it premieres Monday, February 06 at 10:00pm. It promises to be “unflinching.”













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