As a teenage schoolgirl, Anne Hathaway performed with the All-Eastern US High School Honors Chorus at Carnegie Hall. Since then she's become better known as an actress, but Hathaway has a fine soprano voice so it was no surprise when she was chosen to play the prostitute Fantine in the movie version of the Les Misérables musical. This ballad finds Fantine recalling the rich student she once loved, but who abandoned her, leaving the young mother to resort to prostitution to support her daughter.
Hathaway explained the importance of this song to OK magazine. "It was really exciting to take this iconic song, which is so beloved, and find a way to put it through the prism of film, and that meant having to go very, very, very deep inside myself to some uncomfortable places," she said. "But that's what we do, and those are the jobs that you remember and those are the ones that make you grow."
This was the third version of the ballad to chart on the Hot 100. Susan Boyle's interpretation
peaked at #62 in 2009, while the Glee
cast's cover reached #31 the following year.
The Motion Picture Cast Recording of Les Miserables was the first cast recording of a musical film to top the UK album charts since the Madonna-fronted Evita soundtrack reached the peak position in the early weeks of 1997.
The song was originally written in early 1978 by French popular song composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyricist Alain Boublil. Schonberg started with "J'avais revé d'une autre vie," ("I've dreamed of another life"), a phrase from Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, Les Misérables, which he and Boublil were adapting into a musical-theater piece. The pair wished to capture Fantine's feelings of loneliness and misery caused by the destroying of her dreams of a happy life with her lover. "That's one of the worst feelings that you can have, that your life has not been what you thought it was going to be," said Schonberg "That's what I wanted to express through a song."
In 1980 Les Misérables was released as a French-language concept album featuring a young singer, Rose Laurens singing "J'avais Révé D'une Autre Vie." The album was a hit, and later that year, a theatrical version at Paris' Palais des Sports had a three-month run. When British theater producer Cameron Mackintosh came across the disc a couple of years later, he was blown away and commissioned songwriter and TV critic Herbert Kretzmer to adapt the work for an English audience. Kretzmer created the English libretto during five intense months in his London flat, and the reworked Les Misérables opened at London's Barbican Theatre on October 8, 1985. It was slated by the critics, but audiences fell for eye-watering show stoppers like "I Dreamed a Dream" and it became the longest running West End musical in history as well as a global phenomenon.
Kretzmer already had a French connection having written the lyrics for Charles Aznavour's hit song "She
This exploration of love lost is the most purchased individual track from the Les Misérables soundtrack and for many its the film's most moving scene. "There's an inherent bigness to the song a certain anthemic nature that I knew might not work as well on screen," said Hathaway "So I really wanted to pull back and try to get into the fragility of the story." (Source of quotes Entertainment Weekly)