Dixie Doc

In an instant, the Dixie Chicks went from country darlings to America's goats, and two filmmakers caught it all.

There are faded recollections of those long-ago days in Shut Up & Sing—some old snapshots taken in a produce section, some grainy video footage of the girls in their shiny skirts. But that was another lifetime ago: Where once they were greeted with kisses and hugs here, they came to play the American Airlines Center in 2003 and were welcomed by cops warning of death threats. In the film, it's depicted as a triumphant moment: They never consider not playing, and Maines even cracks wise at the photo of the suspect: "He's kinda cute," she says while having her hair done. "Well, he is."

Yet Martie suggests toward the movie's end that the lead singer has always felt guilty for what she said—that she feels not only did she endanger the sisters' lives, perhaps, but most certainly their careers, which they've worked for since they were in their first band in their teens. Martie tearing up and breaking down, says that was never the case, but had it come to it, she and Emily would have given up music if it meant saving the band. It's a wrenching and perfect moment and what the entire film builds toward: This isn't about a sentence spoken without forethought or even malice, but about how three women stared down ruin without ever once thinking there was any other option.

"What I saw happen in such an incredible way, and it had a deep impression on me, is their sense of friendship and the huge bond they have together and how they have each other's back and how that grew so strong through all of this," Kopple says. "I saw that emerge, and it made me think about my whole life and my friends and how we let work interfere with who we are. That was huge. They were surprised anyone would care what they said, they were shocked. But it was the most amazing thing that ever could have happened to them. It allowed them to grow and do this wonderful album, and they have emerged as women who are larger than life and taking those risks and making those choices for themselves and by themselves."

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