gce examiners' reports

Statistical Information
This booklet contains summary details for each unit: number entered; maximum mark
available; mean mark achieved; grade ranges. N.B. The marks provided refer to 'raw
marks' used in the initial assessment, rather than to the uniform marks reported when results
are issued.
Annual Statistical Report
The annual Statistical Report (issued in the second half of the Autumn Term) gives overall
outcomes of all examinations administered by WJEC.
General Certificate of Education
January 2011
Advanced Subsidiary
Principal Examiner (FM2):
Assistant (FM2):
Chief Examiner:
Jill Poppy
Steve Robson
Patrick Phillips
Unit Statistics
The following statistics include all candidates entered for the unit, whether or not they
'cashed in' for an AS award. The attention of centres is drawn to the fact that the statistics
listed should be viewed strictly within the context of these units and that differences will
undoubtedly occur between one year and the next and also between subjects in the same
Max Mark
Grade Ranges
N.B. The marks given above are raw marks and not uniform marks.
Mean Mark
FM2: British and American Film
General Points
There was a very wide range of ability with some excellent work from centres which had
obviously used the last examiners’ report and insets to address weaknesses in last year’s
exam performances. These centres used a case study approach to Section A enabling
candidates to deliver full and engaged responses had taught narrative and genre more
explicitly for Sections B and C, and chosen comparison films for Section C that allowed their
students to have clear yet interesting comparative points to make and which also drew on
their understanding of context. Some centres still need to look at examiners’ reports more
carefully to avoid basic mistakes.
Many of the candidates were clearly able but limited in what they could achieve as they
relied heavily on the resource materials only. Many just repeated what the resource
materials without even showing the ability to identify key points and issues. This was a great
shame, as many candidates would have achieved more had they been able to refer to case
studies. Those centres that had adopted a case study approach and whose students were
able to draw on detailed examples in their discussions of Marketing and British Cinema, the
topics of the questions set, were more able to show use of the resource materials and
evidence of their own learning that is so important for Section A marking.
Question 1 was more popular. Better candidates were able to interpret the stimulus, identify
the key points and discuss their application to the question set. Better candidates also
showed detailed knowledge and understanding of marketing strategies, techniques and
campaigns through the use of ‘real world’ examples rather than hypothetical generalizations.
There were some very good references to the marketing campaigns of ‘Paranormal Activity’,
’28 Days Later’, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Kids are Alright’. Some students were able to
draw on historical examples studied in class such as ‘King Kong’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘The
Godfather’ which they had used in Section C, some centres are obviously looking for ways in
which to ‘join up’ parts of the course which can really benefit students. Better students were
able to identify traditional marketing techniques such as the use of posters, trailers, press
junkets, etc and point to ‘new’ techniques such as the use of E-Media, Viral marketing and
social networking. The use of ‘bankable’ selling points such as stars, genre and conceptual
property formed the basis of some students responses. The very best candidates were also
able to consider the role of producers and audiences in film marketing. There were many
possible approaches to this question and students were not expected to use them all.
Weaker students tended to simply repeat the resource material and could do little beyond
describing it’s content therefore showing little evidence of learning or use of the resource
materials. Some students did waste time on semiotic analysis of the posters and completely
ignored the question set.
Question 2 was less popular but was often done very well, with many students able to
discuss the key issues for UK producers and audiences in Hollywood’s domination of the UK
film industry. Better students were able to identify the implications of the box office figures
and discussed the relative styles and commercial successes of UK and US cinema. Some
students were able to take issue with the resource materials and were able to provide
detailed evidence of UK commercial successes and US ‘flops’. Some students were able
give detailed information, they had been well prepared with, on the types of funding available
for UK film makers and the implications for these on the types of films that get made. There
were some very pleasing responses that debated the positive and negative effects that the
abolition of the UK Film Council may have on the UK film industry. Many students showed a
passionate and personal response to the issues and effects of Hollywood domination on UK
film producers and themselves as audiences which was very effective when linked to case
studies they had covered in class. There were some very knowledgeable examples of
Working Title, Shane Meadows and Nick Parks films that were used to detail funding
mechanisms and there effects on the kind of films produced. Some students were able to
reference historical examples from the UK film industry such as Monty Python and
Handmade Films, Ealing Studios, Rank and Hammer Studios in order to debate the
question. Weaker students tended to simply repeat the resource materials, often missing the
key points, some students seemed to have no understanding of how the UK and US film
industries are different or even see them as separate industries. Some students wrote about
Warner Brothers as a UK film company!
Many students wrote productively and enthusiastically about the films they had seen and
engaged fully with the questions. The most popular sections were British Film and Genre,
Swinging Britain and Living With Crime. There was a better use of narrative learning in this
section and students were able to discuss resolutions, narrative voice, character arcs,
motivation and character function although some students still struggle to make any
productive use of ‘grand theories’, such as Propp and Todorov, as tools of analysis. The
’final girl’ theory was often applied very well. The lack of focus on ‘Britishness’ is still a
problem, particularly on the Genre topic and centres need to do more work on this.
British Film and Genre
Better responses came from those studying Horror with a more sophisticated approach than
in the past. However one or two centres focused heavily on Propp and this dominated
responses from candidates often restricting a free flow of response. There were some very
good discussions about the role of protagonists and antagonists, obvious evidence of good
teaching on the history of British Horror and very good answers on the representations of
masculinity and femininity. The main weakness that should be addressed is the lack of
knowledge about the specifics of British Horror. Most students wrote about the Horror genre
with absolutely no ability to identify the differences, specifics and styles of British Horror.
Many students were comparing British Horror films with American and even Japanese
cinema. This needs to be addressed by centres teaching this topic because their students
are not able to contextualise their learning and reach higher-level marks. The Section is
called British Film Topics. There was some very good work on ‘Dracula’, ‘Creep’, ‘Eden
Lake’, ‘The Wicker Man’, ‘Don’t Look Now’ and ‘Descent’. There were good responses on
28 Days, Witchfinder General and the best answers using Eden Lake and Descent looked at
masculinity and the depiction of women in terms of domestic roles and occupations.
Candidates were well taught and were able to discuss challenges to typical roles and
conformity to typical narrative.
The same lack of specific focus on ‘Britishness’ also affected responses for the comedy
genre to some extent. Students were sometimes able to identify specific aspects of British
humour in order to inform their responses and contextualise their learning. There was some
very good work on satire, slapstick, sexual innuendo and stereotyping. Monty Python films,
Carry on films, Ealing Comedies, The Ladykillers, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead were
used well. Four Weddings and a Funeral was a popular choice and there was good work on
the comedic treatment of serious issues in The Full Monty and East is East with substantial
textual reference. Some of the best responses did engage witb Britishness highlighting ideas
of community and looking at archetypes and iconography.
British Film and Stars
The few responses to this section were generally answered poorly and the least successful
answers were on Ewan McGregor. There was often very little conceptual understanding of
Stars in this section with students struggling to go beyond a very descriptive and generalised
discussion of characters they have played. There was occasionally some useful
biographical information and production contextualization which helped the responses but
students often found it very difficult to identify stars as constructions. Reponses using Julie
Christie tended to be better and centres focused on representations of women and social
class. Centres choosing this topic need to do some theoretical work on stars so that their
candidates can deliver more engaged responses.
British Film and Production Companies
Students using Ealing Studios tended to produce more successful responses. There were
some very knowledgeable and detailed responses here with good use of textual detail,
application of narrative learning and some contextualization. Responses using Working Title
were occasionally very good when they were able to stress the diversity of the studios output
and were able to accurately discuss their production history. Too many students reduced
Working Title films to simplistic and generalised comments about Hugh Grant.
British Film - Cultural Study
This section produced excellent responses with detailed and knowledgeable references to
the films and contextual issues, although one or two centres are still using pre 1963 films.
There was some excellent work on representations and application of narrative learning.
Centres, on the whole, wrote well about the 1960s themes of rebellion, sexual liberation,
repression, the changing role of women and class clashes, but others need to expand their
idea of ‘culture’. Some very good responses compared large and small acts of rebellion in If
and Billy Liar and others gave insights into changes in film making and new waves. Alfie
and If were used well together too, where candidates discussed class, masculinity and
representations of women and authority.
Alfie was also paired with Blow Up and candidates examined morality, messages and values
and the portrayal of the 60s.
British Film: Social-Political Study - Living with Crime
There was some excellent work on conflict driving the narrative, particularly using Brighton
Rock and They Made Me a Fugitive. This was also the section where centres used the film
text well. Get Carter and Dead Man’s Shoes were used well in terms of context and social
issues. There was excellent work on Bullet Boy, London to Brighton and Sweet Sixteen
making good comparisons and exploring issues with detailed reference to texts. Some
responses may have been better if candidates had written about two texts in greater depth
rather than three. Harry Brown and Kidulthood were popular texts and responses were
detailed and engaged. The Italian Job and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels looked at
characters in crime and examined typical conventions in terms of character and action. The
choice of Sweet Sixteen and Layer Cake limited candidates’ responses – they found a lot to
say about Sweet Sixteen but then lapsed into description.
British Film: Identity Study - Borders and Belonging
This section had some good responses with candidates engaging fully with ideas of identity
and belonging at a variety of levels. One centre looked at four texts – This is England,
Trainspotting, Yasmin and In the Name of the Father. These were good choices, but which
inevitably delivered a superficial approach. Centres may need reminding that two texts in
depth is a more useful approach and will deliver a more substantial response. This is
England was used very well with The Last Resort; candidates offered close textual
references and were able to discuss montage editing, diegetic sound and closed framing to
support their points. Centres also offered Loach’s It’s a Free World with Last Resort and this
worked well as candidates could discuss points of view with strong textual reference.
Section C: American Film – Comparative Study
Weaker candidates seem to get their best marks in Section C. Many responses delivered
good textual detail and comparisons were usually made well. Very occasionally context
over-informed responses at the expense of textual detail. There still needs to be a greater
focus on ‘Americanness’ and this needs more work from most centres. This sometimes
comes from contextualization of the films but could be more embedded in teaching narrative
and representational issues. The very best responses looked at context together with
textual detail and were able to communicate their understanding of ‘Americanness’. There
was a wide range of choice with the least successful being remakes, particularly when they
are too close together. Contemporary comparisons are also difficult to do well and
candidates need more guidance from their centres. An issue in this section has been the
individual choice afforded to some students by centres, which is not always helpful for the
candidate in making a sensible comparable film. Some centres seem to be only teaching
one film and then allowing students to choose a comparison film. This is not to be
encouraged, many students are using films, which bear hardly any relation to the initial
choice or do not provide sufficient comparison. Centres should ensure that candidates know
the date and genre of their films.
There was excellent work on Angels with Dirty Faces and The Departed with plenty of
textual detail, which supported insightful comparisons on genre, representation, religion and
iconography. Bonnie and Clyde and Gun Crazy (1948) were compared well, looking at
themes of love and conflict in context. Little Miss Sunshine and The Grapes of Wrath were
compared as road movies, comparing messages and values, the family and the American
Dream. Double Indemnity and Sin City were popular choices and responses looking at
messages and values in Film Noir were well tackled. Good responses dealt with context and
the stock use of characters such as the femme fatale. Double Indemnity compared well with
The Last Seduction, particularly when examining aspects of masculinity and ideas of justice
in the 40s and 90s. Some responses included references to other examples such as Out of
the Past. There was good work on The Departed and The Untouchables looking at genre
and narrative and interesting comparisons made including references to melodrama, context
and clear cut morality versus complex messages and values. Rear Window and The
Conversation were very good choices with excellent responses looking at voyeurism and
roles of women. Centres made comparisons between small stories and one long, complex,
narrative and also looked at the context of Watergate and McCarthyism. There were some
excellent detailed responses to Donnie Darko and The Breakfast Club (80s) and Rebel
without a Cause dealing with teenage angst, bullying and authority figures.
Although remakes are not always easy for candidates to write about well some centres did
prepare their students and candidates compared the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1976 to the
2002 version looking specifically at audience and context, roles of women, portrayal of girls.
They provided detailed textual references and placed the films in the context of the Iraq and
Vietnam wars and the changing media perceptions of ‘shockability’. Also, some centres
dealt very well with two versions of The Mummy, 1932 and 1999 looking at audience
expectations and the influences of Dracula and Indiana Jones.
Other good comparisons:
Sunset Boulevard/Kiss Kiss Bang Bang : aspects of Hollywood, harsh and unforgiving,
Badlands and Natural Born Killers: trapped, American Dream
The Body Snatchers and The Faculty: themes of authority, teenagers and audience.
Gun Crazy and Bonnie and Clyde: themes of guns, love, killing, law.
Rio Grande and Unforgiven: Very good on optimism versus realistic view, ideology and
conceptions of American history.
Chicago and 42nd Street : success, fame, jealously, femmes fatales.
The Roaring Twenties and The Road to Perdition: background of prohibition, crime
gangsters, vengeance themes.
Goodfellas and American Gangster: excellent responses on context and comparison with
detailed textual reference.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers x 2 looking at context.
The Shawshank Redemption and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / Out with Napoleon Dynamite
The Searchers and Dances with Wolves.
General Certificate of Education
January 2011
Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced
Principal Examiner (FM4):
Chief Examiner:
Patrick Phillips
Patrick Phillips
Unit Statistics
The following statistics include all candidates entered for the unit, whether or not they
'cashed in' for an A2 award. The attention of centres is drawn to the fact that the statistics
listed should be viewed strictly within the context of these units and that differences will
undoubtedly occur between one year and the next and also between subjects in the same
Grade Ranges
Max Mark
N.B. The marks given above are raw marks and not uniform marks.
Mean Mark
FM4: Varieties of Film Experience: Issues and Debates
This was the first January paper and approximately 90% of the total of 392 were first time
candidates. Given the recommendation that FM4 benefits from candidates reflecting back
across all aspects of learning through the two years of AS and A2 study, it was interesting to
note the relatively high level of achievement of these students who were entered after just
one term of A2 study.
Although the paper is demanding in terms of its length and the requirement to write through
substantial essay responses, candidates were mostly able to complete all three sections and
to produce work that reflected good preparation by their teachers. There is a tendency to be
descriptive rather than discursive in Sections A and B, producing unnecessarily lengthy
answers – on occasion at the expense of Section C. Overall, the only significant recurring
problem was in Section B where issues of spectatorship were inadequately addressed with
candidates focusing more on the film examples than on concepts and ideas. There was
some strong work in Sections A and C.
Section A: World Cinema Topics
Candidates need more than the minimum two films to answer broader based questions
about context. This is true of all four topics, but particularly Aspects of National Cinema. On
the other hand, questions which focus on stylistic elements, including reference to specific
micro features, often are best answered by candidates restricting their response to two films
which they can refer to with the necessary detail. In preparing candidates it useful to train
them in spotting the textual and contextual question for each topic and in considering the
different kinds of demand of each.
The choice of films for study in this section tended to reflect recommendations made in the
Notes for Guidance and elsewhere. Centres are again reminded that English Language
films are not allowed in Section A.
Section B: Spectatorship Topics
As is often the case with this section, candidates have a better knowledge of their chosen
film form such as documentary than they do of spectatorship. It is vital to recognise that
success in this section requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge and appreciation of
spectatorship issues by reference to a particular form of film – and the film form is not
studied for itself.
The choice of films for each topic was varied and generally appropriate. Centres familiar
with teaching Shocking Cinema on the old Specification are tending to use the same films for
Popular Film on the new. In doing so, there is a tendency to forget that some films used
previously cannot really be considered ‘popular’ – such as Irreversible. The definition of
‘popular’ offered is very broad and certainly blurred at the edges, but in broad terms centres
are encouraged to consider mainstream genre cinema for this topic.
Section C: Single Film: Close Critical Analysis
This section of the paper was generally informed by considerable knowledge and
engagement. While the majority of centres offered Fight Club, there was good work offered
in relation to Modern Times, Vertigo, Sweet Sweetback and Talk to Her.
In most cases candidates were more successful when choosing the film-specific question
rather than q.17 or q.18. Particularly impressive were responses to a challenging Vertigo
The two broadly-based questions, one focusing on the application of a critical approach, the
other the influence of critical debates, require more careful preparation. Fundamentally a
critical approach or critical debate needs first to be clearly identified by the candidate and
then used as the spine of the answer. For higher grades candidates are expected to
demonstrate some reflective qualities and be prepared to engage actively in debate,
referencing the source of their ideas and arguments.
Concluding Comments
Much good work was offered and teachers are commended for preparing their students so
well in only four months of study. Whether or not this paper requires the additional maturity
and understanding that comes from a whole second year of study is open to debate.
Many of the re-sit candidates struggled and appeared, perhaps for obvious reasons, to have
had little or no additional input since they took the paper the first time.
As a written examination requiring essay-style answers, candidates with the necessary
academic skills will always be at an advantage.
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