Shut Up & Sing (2006)

Genre(s): Documentary
Weinstein Company || R - 93 minutes - $28.95 || February 20, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-02-21

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck
Cast: Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Mcguire

Theatrical Release Date: November 10, 2006

Supplemental Material:
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles:

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.::THE FILM::.

Back in 2003, Natalie Maines, lead singer of the group Dixie Chicks made the comment that she was "ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Now these comments on their own would seem harmless but given the state of the country and the impending war, these words created one of the biggest controversies in recent music history. The backlash against the group was huge with country stations refusing to play their music, former fans trashed their albums and huge protests were done before each of their concerts. They went from the #1 group in the country to not even being in the top 25 in terms of sales. Given the fact that America has always been known for a place that is free and freedom of speech is part of that, it was shocking to some (including me) that the Dixie Chicks were treated the way they were. Regardless of what your political opinions are, one should be able to express whatever they feel like, especially when it comes to the government or disagreeing with a certain direction the country is going in. That was the foundation upon where the country was built around. The Dixie Chicks should be able to voice their opinion against the war just as much as country singer Toby Keith can voice his opinion for the war.

So documentary filmmakers Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck decided to make a documentary based upon the journey the group had to endure because of the backlash. Maines even put out several statements clarifying what she said and the fact that she supported the troops but to no avail. I found the documentary to be at its best when the political side of the backlash as well as footage of people who were for as well as against the group. Personally, I was never a fan of their music but one doesn't have to be to be amazed by how one or two sentences can change the lives of three musical artists so much. The point in the documentary where Maines receives a letter that she will be murdered because of what she said is truly shocking in this day and age. The documentary slows down a bit when we get inside the lives of the three singers and their families. I found those scenes to be the least interesting in the film. The irony of the whole film is that in the end, it was the Bush Administration who ended up lying to the public about the Iraq War and their intentions.

As I mentioned earlier, regardless of your political opinion, Shut up & Sing is worth seeing because it depicts what can happen to even those who are at the top of their game when it comes to comments against the President at the time of war. Some would say that the job of a musician is to just well.shut up and sing, but real musical artists are not afraid to express what is truly on their minds. Those musicians who are not afraid to lose their record sales for the sake of expressing what is truly on their minds are the true artists out there. David Leaf and John Scheinfeld recent documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is also worth seeing for the very same reason. Given the fact that John Lennon underwent so much scrutiny for being against the war back in the late 60's and 70's, it is unfortunate to say that we haven't really come a long way in the last 30 or so years when it comes to freedom of speech.


The DVD only includes a theatrical trailer.


The video transfer on the documentary is solid. Unfortunately, the film is shown in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The audio is solid and crisp but it could have been better given the dozen or so musical cues the film has. The documentary only comes in a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track.


The documentary itself is worth watching but it would have been nice for the DVD producers to add a few special features here and there. Perhaps a commentary by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck or maybe some more behind the scenes footage of the group on tour would have been nice. I think fans of the group will definitely enjoy the film for its musical cues and footage of the group undergoing to gigantic change they went through in just three years. Even those who don't like the group and their music should check out the film to see how "freedom of speech" has become more of a myth and less of a freedom in America. Ironically, given the fact that their album sales took a sharp dive after Maines' comments, the group still managed to open their latest album at #1 and recently even won five Grammies for their latest album Taking the Long Way.