10/28/2011 12:32 pm ET | Updated Dec 28, 2011

CliffsNotes Films: A Shorter, Faster Visual Approach To Classic Works

We've all been there before -- 10th grade English teacher assigns reading homework for the night, and it's a third of William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth, to be followed by a reading quiz and in-class discussion first thing in the morning.

It's late, and we've dozed off by Act II Scene 5. But we also know that the book and online resource CliffsNotes can give us a quick synopsis of what we missed. It might not be the real deal, but it gives us enough about the characters, plot, and major symbols and motifs so we're not completely clueless. Which student hasn't turned to CliffsNotes for some help every once in a while?

Now, it's coming to the masses in an even simpler form. "CliffNotes Films -- The Fastest Way to Learn," a collaboration among AOL, Mark Burnett, Coalition Films and Josh Faure-Brac, is launching with animated shorts -- each narrated by nerdy super hero Super Cliff who guides the audience through classic works.

The initiative brings video versions of CliffsNotes "by presenting classic works of fiction in humorous, irreverent, animated shorts that still manage to present the plots, characters and themes to the viewer," according to a statement -- "edutainment."

The videos are also interactive experiences, as they include in-video links to related content like articles and videos that offer more information on characters, setting and themes -- as well as commentary from college professors.

Check out the 30-second sneak peak above, and head over to for more of the CliffsNotes shorts.