May the Fourth Be with You
Celebrating Star Wars Day
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To consider the ‘forces’ that can help us to overcome obstacles in life.
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 the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/yx8c5axa
- As the students enter the room, play the main theme of Star Wars.
Point out that 4 May is known as Star Wars Day, when fans all over the world celebrate George Lucas’ Star Wars films.
The date was chosen for the pun on a famous Star Wars catchphrase. ‘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 took office as 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.’
- The first large organized event for the day took place on 4 May 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Screenings of the movies were accompanied by a costume contest that was judged by local radio hosts and TV stars.
- Ask the students the following questions relating to the phrase ‘May the Force be with you’.
- What is meant by ‘the Force’?
Ask the students to think about the answer. Listen to a range of responses if appropriate.
Read out the definition that Obi-Wan Kenobi gives in Star Wars: A New Hope: ‘The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.’
- In what context do characters say, ‘May the Force be with you’?
Listen to a range of responses if appropriate.
Explain that the phrase is often used as individuals part ways or face impending challenges. It is used to wish an individual or group good luck.
- Who says the phrase?
Listen to a range of responses if appropriate.
The phrase is used quite often, but examples include Han Solo saying it to Luke Skywalker while preparing to leave Yavin 4 and Luke Skywalker saying it to Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca as they prepare to rescue Han Solo from being frozen in carbonite.
- Show the YouTube video of James Earl Jones saying to Harvard graduates, ‘May the Force be with you’.
Ask the students, ‘Who is the man who says the famous phrase in the video?’ and ‘Whose voice does he provide in the Star Wars films?’
- Show the image of James Earl Jones.
Explain that James Earl Jones is the actor who was the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.
He is regarded as one of America’s most distinguished and versatile actors, and is also 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. He was born in Mississippi and his father left the family shortly after Jones was born. When he was five, Jones was sent to live with his grandparents in Michigan, 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 strategy gave Jones confidence and was the tool that 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, for us, help will come from a teacher, professional, counsellor, family member or friend.
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 students leave the room.