'Les Miserables' standout 'I Dreamed a Dream': The history of this sob-inducing song in 4 great versions

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Perhaps you recently saw the film Les Miserables. Perhaps you got a little caught up in the story of Fantine, the fired factory worker whose desperation to take care of her daughter fuels much of the early plot. Perhaps you made it to the moment where Fantine — played by Anne Hathaway — sings her signature ode to lost love and dashed hopes, “I Dreamed a Dream.” Perhaps you, like much of the rest of the sentient universe, broke down into a blubbering pile of raw-throated eye-gush emotional goo. You are not alone. Hathaway’s version of the song — which recently earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win — has gotten everyone talking about a tune that was already one of Les Miz‘s most popular standards. “What [director] Tom [Hooper] and Annie have done is created a really raw, pure version of the song,” says Working Title co-chairman Eric Fellner, one of the movie’s producers. “There have been many great versions of the song, but I don’t think anybody has performed it this way, because it’s never been acted on screen before. It’s just very, very emotional.”

As Fellner points out, there have been plenty of memorable takes on “I Dreamed a Dream” since composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyricist Alain Boublil wrote the song in Paris in 1979. Read on for a few of our favorites, along with some memories from people involved.

For much more on the history of “I Dreamed a Dream” and Anne Hathaway’s performance in the movie, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly

NEXT: The French “I Dreamed a Dream”


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