Examiners Report Paper 2 Striped Pyjamas

The range and variety of responses this year was very strong. There appeared to be more variety in the choice of films studied this year and it was pleasing to see centres tackling films that are perhaps more challenging and complex. The most popular films continue to be Tsotsi, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Devil’s Backbone and these also remain some of the most successful. The stepped question approach, as with paper 1, continues to be successful, allowing candidates across the ability range to access marks. Candidates are now generally well prepared to answer most questions and are aware of the expectations of the paper. Most candidates can discuss their chosen film in terms of place, character, themes and issues. However, it appears that some centres prepare their candidates in a limited way by teaching only one key scene and one key character to the exclusion of other aspects of the film. This approach was also evident in question three this year, where some candidates within a centre produced what seemed formulaic answers. As suggested last year, this is not recommended as it limits candidates’ ability to engage with the film and hinders their ability to answer different kinds of question. As in previous years, the best candidates had clearly studied their chosen films in real depth. Although there are still some issues with a minority of candidates misunderstanding questions or not recognising key terms, many showed a good understanding of elements such as ‘representation’. One issue that was noted, however, was the lack of film language apparent in some candidates’ responses. Although questions may not always specify that film language should be used, candidates should be encouraged to analyse films using film language wherever possible in order to support the answers given.

Question 1

Most candidates answered question one well and were able to choose an appropriate and important male character in their chosen film. Some failed to identify their character by name or named him incorrectly, which was reflected in the marks awarded. In part (b), the best answers discussed the importance of their chosen character’s role in terms of their effect on other characters, themes/issues and on the narrative itself. Less successful answers usually identified the protagonist but were more descriptive and less developed. Almost all candidates attempted part (c) of question one, which was pleasing to see as representation questions can be more challenging for some candidates. Some candidates chose to discuss how both genders were represented, despite the question asking for the focus to be on one either male or female. This often resulted in answers that lacked specific detail. Similarly, although the question asked candidates to use film language in their answer, many did not and this weakened their response. If no film language was used to support candidates’ findings, higher level marks could not be awarded. © WJEC CBAC Ltd. 5

Question 2 As last year, it was encouraging to see that most candidates attempted all sections of question two, giving them every opportunity to gain marks. Almost all candidates identified a setting within their chosen film. Those who identified a specific and relevant setting were awarded full marks in part (a), whereas those who had given a more generalised setting (such as the country the film was set in) were awarded less marks and tended to struggle with the latter parts of the question. It is therefore advisable for candidates to read all parts of a question before attempting an answer. Most candidates were able to describe their setting effectively and the best answers were detailed, often giving evidence of sights, sounds and even smells. Part (c), which asked candidates to explain how their chosen setting relates to one theme or issue, was less straightforward. Whilst many candidates were able to reference a key theme or issue in more general terms, some struggled to link them to the setting. Similar to question 1 (c), candidates who attempted to cover more than the required single area of focus struggled to gain access to higher level marks as their answers were understandably less detailed. Part (d) allowed candidates to engage fully with the question and to show their knowledge and understanding of their chosen film through exploring any theme or issue of their choice. The most able candidates referred to key sequences (as required by the question) and analysed the film language used within these sequences in order to show how the theme or issue was communicated.

Question 3 Most centres appear to be comfortable with the lengthier and more challenging question three and many answers given were very strong. However, responses do continue to be varied and this year it seemed that some candidates had been overly prepared for this question, giving answers that seemed formulaic. This resulted in work that often limited candidates’ engagement with the question set. Although centres will understandably want to prepare their candidates for potential questions, they are reminded that the best answers are those which demonstrate real engagement with the question, allowing candidates to draw upon their knowledge of the film studied. Higher level answers often did this by following the suggested indicators in the question and using key sequences/film language to showcase their understanding of how meaning was created. Less successful answers tended to be more generalised and attempted to use personal response to disguise a lack of knowledge. Reminders for centres  The best examination responses demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the whole film rather than one key character, setting or theme.  Candidates should be encouraged to apply what they know in their answer to question three rather than rely on rehearsed responses.  Film language/reference to key sequences should be encouraged wherever possible and not just where specified.  Candidates should be encouraged to read all parts of a question before answering.  Candidates should take note of the words in bold within the questions to ensure they are not writing about more than they need to. This will help to focus their answers.