Brow Beat

Pharrell Dances Through the World’s Most Oppressed Places in His Moving Video for “Freedom”

In Pharrell Williams’ evocative, beautiful video for “Freedom,” Pharrell once again dances his way across the world, this time through abandoned shopping malls and work camps and sweatshops—a grim, poignant, ultimately hopeful tour of all the places where basic human liberty is under threat.

We see time lapse videos of soaring American landscapes, old footage of Muhammad Ali throwing punches, and Lego renderings of Tiananmen Square. Pharrell points to the prison of commercial culture, too, with shots of him singing next to rows of expressionless, heavily-made-up models and crumbling escalators in an abandoned mall atrium. There are moments of joy and promise, too: babies being born, happy children playing. The video premiered on Apple Music a few weeks ago, but was just made available on YouTube.