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New series of short films examines the world’s best literature

by Stewart Cole

After the incredible success of the YouTube channel Great art explained in 15 minutesarts writer James Payne has released a brilliant new series that offers a fresh look at world literature.

Great books explained it is a collaboration, this time with academics and journalists. The first release was one of the world’s most difficult books, by James Joyce Odysseus and the second is the ever popular one Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The clever new channel follows the same winning formula as Great Art Explained, taking complex theories and ideas and making solid informative films about individual books. The channel has clearly already created buzz as the film Ulysses had over 200,000 views in its first three weeks. If you ever struggle to understand Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness the Atlas shruggedthis is the channel for you.

Each episode is about just one book and explores history, wealth, politics, gender, race and sexuality. They only last about 15 minutes, but are packed with lots of information and graphics. There are no gimmicks, no fancy graphics, no jargon. Just words, facts and pictures.

In addition to explaining the plot, the films place the book in context, history, geography, and the lives of the authors.

The original Great Art Explained channel now has over 1.4 million subscribers and receives over a million views per month. In total, the videos had over 44 million views. Why are they so popular? Clear language and engaging storytelling are key factors. The most popular video is about Vincent Van Gogh‘small painting The Starry Night, which has over 5 million views. Michelangelo’s sculpture David it has 4.5 million views and Leonardo da Vinciof Mona Lisa4.3 million. The art videos are now shown in schools and colleges and have also been used in museums around the world.

Great art explained is the brainchild of London art consultant and tour guide James Payne, who has been showing tourists around Europe for over 20 years. These educational tours often focus on art history and his Great Art Explained films are an extension of these conversations. The Bachelor of Fine Arts from the prestigious London Central St Martinsas well as his work as an art gallerist and art and film writer make him an ideal host for these short films.

Each film in the ongoing series combines entertaining storytelling with clear, concise information, presented in a 15-minute format that contains more detail than most full-length documentaries. So who’s watching? The audience is diverse, although surprisingly, 62.6% are male viewers, aged between 18-34. The vast majority at 35% are from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, India, Canada and Germany.

Thoroughly researched and cleverly presented, with stunning visuals, James Payne’s motto is ‘Don’t patronize, don’t fool around and never assume the audience has more than a basic knowledge of the subject. He has applied this winning formula to the books. The next episodes will be open Beowulf, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein and the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Great books explainedlike the other series, is free to watch, so subscribe now to take full advantage of this informative and entertaining new channel.

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