May the Fourth Be with You
Celebrating Star Wars Day
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the ‘forces’ that can help us in our lives.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the following YouTube videos and the means to show them during the assembly:
- the main theme of Star Wars, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D0ZQPqeJkk (5.51 minutes long)
- James Earl Jones saying to Harvard graduates, ‘May the Force be with you’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvB_eo2Xev4 (0.37 minutes long)
- Have available an image of James Earl Jones and Darth Vader and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/wf7scyf
- As the children enter the room, play the main theme of Star Wars.
Ask the children whether they recognize the music that has been playing. Hopefully, someone will identify that it is the main theme tune for Star Wars.
- Ask whether any of the children have watched any of the Star Wars films.
Ask them to tell the others a bit about the films, such as their favourite storylines and characters.
- Point out that 4 May is known as Star Wars Day, when fans all over the world celebrate the world of Star Wars.
Ask the children whether they can suggest why ‘May the Fourth’ would be chosen as Star Wars Day. You may need to emphasize the words until the children pick up on the similarity between ‘May the Fourth’ and ‘May the Force’.
The date was chosen because it is a play on words. ‘May the Fourth’ recalls the well-known phrase from the Star Wars films, ‘May the Force be with you’.
- This play on words is believed to date back to 4 May 1979 - two years after the first Star Wars film was released - when Margaret Thatcher became prime minister. The Conservative Party congratulated its new prime minister by placing an advert in a London paper that read, ‘May the Fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.’
- Explain that in the world of Star Wars, the Force is something that gives the Jedi their special power. The phrase is often used in the films when characters part ways or face big challenges, to wish them luck.
- Show the YouTube video of James Earl Jones saying to Harvard graduates, ‘May the Force be with you’.
Explain that the man who says the phrase here is the actor who was the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.
- Show the image of James Earl Jones and Darth Vader.
Explain that James Earl Jones is one of America’s most famous actors. He is known for his voice roles as Darth Vader in the Star Wars films and as Mufasa in The Lion King. His voice is deep and gravelly, but it wasn’t always like that.
As a child, Jones had a pronounced stutter. When he was five, Jones was sent to live with his grandparents, but during that time, he developed a stutter that was so severe that he refused to speak. For eight years, until he went to high school, he hardly spoke.
At Jones’ new school, his English teacher, Donald Crouch, took an interest in him and helped him to overcome his stutter. The teacher discovered that Jones had a gift for writing poetry and helped him to do so, encouraging him to read out his own poems for others to appreciate. This gave Jones confidence and unlocked his silence. He would go on to become one of the greatest actors in American history, winning many prestigious awards.
Time for reflection
James Earl Jones had a difficult childhood; he needed some sort of power or force to help him. In the end, the force that helped him was a caring teacher who took an interest and found ways to help him overcome his difficulties.
What things do we need to overcome? We all have things in our lives that cause us problems and might hold us back from reaching our full potential. Maybe we will find that a teacher, family member or friend will help us.
Some people believe that the phrase ‘May the Force be with you’ originated from the Latin phrase ‘Dominus vobiscum’, which means ‘May the Lord be with you’. Many people find comfort in the knowledge that God is almighty and will help them whenever they ask him to.
Thank you that you often put people in our path at just the right time when we need help.
Thank you that James Earl Jones’ story shows us that there is hope in our difficulties.
Thank you that you are always there with us.
Show the YouTube video of the main theme of Star Wars again as the children leave the room.