collections

Maniac Chase (1904)

This 1904 short from Edison Studios, directed by Edwin S. Porter, is a near shot-by-shot remake of Biograph’s The Escaped Lunatic released earlier that year (Edison resorted to pretty desperate measures to try and keep the competition at bay). Biograph’s film was most likely the very first time the “Napoleon delusion” trope — in which a mentally ill person believes themself to be Napoleon Bonaparte — is seen on the screen. This comedic stereotype has its roots in real life cases of the 19th century, including that recounted in the 2014 book The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon, which tells of how a day after Napoleon’s body was returned to Paris for burial in December 1840, the director of a Paris hospital for the insane admitted fourteen men claiming to be the famous Emperor.

Housed at: Internet Archive
Underlying Work: PD U.S. | Digital Copy: Pending clarification
Download: Mpeg4 Part 1 / Part 2