A prairie chicken in Rothsoy, Minnesota

A prairie chicken in Rothsoy, MN. Photo by Amy Elliot.

Webeditor’s Note: This article originally appeared in SCA Road Notes, Winter 2004. It has been edited slightly for clarity. World’s Largest had its debut at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival. The film’s website and Facebook page are still accessible. Elliott and Donius’ latest project, Salvage, is a film about North America’s largest publicly accessible dump, and is currently in production.

World’s Largest is a feature length documentary co-produced and shot by SCA member Amy Elliott. Former SCA president Bert Bedeau served as an advisor to the project.

Amy Elliott and her co-producer, Elizabeth Donius, surveyed fifty small towns across the country which boast the “world’s largest” something, be it a 15-foot fiberglass strawberry or a 40-foot concrete pheasant. Their film explores the landscape of rural America today, and examines the arti­facts people choose to celebrate about them­selves and their communities.

A bluegill in Orr, Minnesota

Yes, it’s a bluegill in Orr, MN. Photo by Amy Elliot.

People build “world’s largests” in the world’s smallest places. Many are rural communities, graying and diminishing in population. As the economies that created them shrink or disappear altogether, some of these towns are losing what defines them. The film illustrates that at the heart of constructing and celebrating these giant attractions is the attempt to maintain and find meaning in local identity. Visiting these icons is a visually and emotionally compelling way to examine the vanishing, or perhaps merely changing, culture of small-town America.

Giant hockey stick in Eveleth, Minnesota, home of the US Hockey Hall of Fame

Eveleth, MN is the home of the US Hockey Hall of Fame. Photo by Amy Elliot.

The film wrapped up production in December, 2004, after three years of shooting. To learn more about “World’s Largest” check out the website at: worldslargestdoc.com.

World's Largest Paul Bunyan Statue, Akeley, Minnesota

Filmmakers Amy Elliott and Elizabeth Donius at the World’s Largest Paul Bunyan Statue, Akeley, MN. worldslargestdoc.com

Did you enjoy this article? Join the SCA and get full access to all the content on this site. This article originally appeared in the SCA Road Notes, Winter 2004, Vol. 12, No. 4. SCA Road Notes, informally known as SCA News, is a quarterly publication and a member benefit of the Society for Commercial Archeology. Back issues are available for download.

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