Full Circle: The Haunting of Julia

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Based on the novel Julia by Peter Straub, Full Circle is a highly regarded, long-vanished, evocatively eerie cult chiller, newly restored in 4K resolution.

Bereaved mother Julia (Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby) flees controlling husband Magnus (Keir Dullea, Black Christmas), re-establishing herself in an old house in leafy West London. Yet she finds herself haunted by apparitions of a ghostly blonde-haired child, sending her on a strange journey of self-discovery - with dreadful consequences.

Long requested by fans, the BFI is delighted to bring Full Circle to UK audiences as a limited edition 4K UHD and Blu-ray dual format release.

BFI Flipside is dedicated to rediscovering the margins of British film, reclaiming a space for forgotten movies and filmmakers who would otherwise be in danger of disappearing from our screens forever. It is a home for UK cinematic oddities, offering everything from exploitation documentaries to B-movies, countercultural curios and obscure classics, If it's weird, British and forgotten, then it's Flipside.

Picture 9/10

BFI Flipside presents Richard Loncraine’s Full Circle (aka The Haunting of Julia) on 4K UHD, presenting the film in a ratio of 2.39:1 on a triple-layer disc. Presented in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible), the 2160p/24hz ultra high-definition presentation is sourced from a new 4K restoration, scanned from the 35mm original camera negative. This is a dual-format release that also includes a standard Blu-ray featuring a 1080p presentation of the film. I do not have access to that disc now, but my understanding is it is locked to Region B. The UHD is, of course, region-free.

The film has been challenging to come across in the past (I’m only aware of home video releases overseas), so seeing it get a new UHD release from BFI (and Scream Factory in North America) is a bit wild, and the results are beyond impressive. The color palette is minimal, to say the least, falling somewhere between autumn colors and beige, with the only bright color (from what I can recall) being the red light on a space heater featured prominently in a handful of scenes.

Still, despite what ends up being a generally pasty color scheme, they looked pretty fantastic, blending beautifully. HDR and Dolby Vision also play a lot in this, especially when the blending of light comes into play. As a supernatural film built around mood, there are many dark sequences with little light, and the light blends wonderfully as it breaks down into the darker areas of the screen. A soft focus is also applied at times, but delineation still looks clean and produces a sharp photographic look. Black levels can be a little flat and murky in places, but based on comments by Loncraine in the included commentary, it sounds like this is inherent to the photography. The blacks run rich and deep during its best moments, though, and the finer details are gorgeously rendered.

Details are incredibly sharp, even decent when that soft focus is applied, and grain is rendered wonderfully. The restoration has also cleaned this up near-immaculately, with only a few minor things appearing here and there. It’s a stunning-looking image, and I’m so glad everyone involved felt it was a worthwhile candidate for the format.

Screen Captures Added May 9th, 2023

(All SDR screen captures are taken directly from the source disc. They have been converted from PNG files to JPGs and have been slightly compressed to conserve space.)

Audio 5/10

I’m not sure what the issue is, but I found myself beyond frustrated with the film’s monaural soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD MA 2.0. I don’t know if it’s just the source materials or if excessive filtering was applied during the restoration stage (it may be more the former), but whatever the case may be, dialogue lacks fidelity and comes out incredibly flat, drained of any depth. I found it shockingly hard to hear and eventually had to resort to turning on the subtitles when cranking the volume proved futile. I felt it actually got worse as I increased the volume. The film’s score sounds okay, but the range is still severely narrow.

I'm leaning more toward it being a source issue, but it doesn't make the results any less frustrating.

Extras 8/10

BFI provides the option to watch the film with (or without) a short 38-second introduction by Richard Loncraine, where the director thanks you, the viewer, for watching what he considers “nearly” a good movie. That might catch one a little off guard, yet that sentiment from the director (and solely the director) does carry on into other supplements featuring him. That includes a new audio commentary featuring him alongside film historian Simon Fitzjohn. The commentary delivers what you would pretty much expect in the areas of the film’s background and production, with Loncraine getting into the financing of the film, the process of casting Mia Farrow and Keir Dullea (the latter, it's frequently pointed out, to meet an obligation for Canadian financing), and adapting Peter Straub’s book, a lot of which was changed. Where Loncraine has trouble recalling specific details, Fitzjohn fills in from his research, those details proving to surprise Loncraine on occasion.

The track proves of most interest when the two get into the quality of the film. Fitzjohn (who also worked on the new restoration) is clearly a fan, but Loncraine, on the other hand, has a lot of reservations with it, hence his comment on it “nearly” being a good film, which he often repeats here. He’s proud of it but has trouble getting past its issues, and the biggest, for him, is that he doesn’t think the film decides whether it’s a “horror” film or a “psychological thriller” at any point and that it only really shines during its closing shot. This leads him to talk about specific moments and scenes where he feels he got things wrong, lamenting some of his decisions. This can then lead Fitzjohn to counter with his own thoughts on why he feels the decisions benefit the film, which Loncraine is open to on occasion. Not only does this end up helping one possibly appreciate the film a little more, but it also leads to some engaging discussions and keeps the track going at a good pace.

BFI then throws in several new interviews with cast and crew members. Loncraine sits for a 24-minute one, which ends up being more than a summarization of the commentary as the director gets into more detail about his early career, the script for Full Circle, and then its eventual release (with no budget for advertising). There’s also an 11-minute discussion with actor Tom Conti, who recounts the film’s production and what working with Loncraine and Farrow was like. He also briefly gets into how home video helps films like Full Circle eventually find their audience (mentioning how it helped a movie he loves, Midnight Run, find one) before also throwing in a surprising story about how he was cast in a “wonderful” project only to have it collapse. It turns out that project was what would become Starman.

From there is a 25-minute interview featuring composer Colin Towns talking about the film’s score (which he demoed on an “untunable” piano after seeing the script) and other points in his career, followed by a discussion with Samantha Gates, who plays the spiritual presence in the film. Sadly, her contribution is short at 10 minutes, but she recounts what she can about the film and working with Farrow. Associate producer Hugh Harlow also pops up for 7 minutes to talk about how he came in to “take over” the production, meaning there were troubles he had to resolve. These concerns come up in the commentary and elsewhere on the disc, but it all comes down to financing problems and Farrow looking to back out of the project over the fear of being typecast in horror films following Rosemary’s Baby.

Fitzjohn then hosts a 15-minute featurette entitled Park Life, revisiting critical locations in the film, from the hospital to the park. Sequences from the film are shown before cutting to Fitzjohn visiting the place. The film's main house also pops up, which looks more welcoming now (and according to Fitzjohn in the commentary now goes for around £12,000,000, though I could not confirm this).

My favorite feature might be Kim Newman’s contribution, a 25-minute appreciation of the film. He addresses apparent issues with the film but spends a lot of time reviewing its strengths (he points out how it captures London and the English class hierarchy) and where it fits in the horror films being released during this period. This even leads him to talk more about Peter Straub’s original book and the adaptation, going over some significant changes. He also explains why Straub’s work can be so difficult to adapt, though he thinks Loncraine’s closing in this film is about as perfect an adaptation of Straub’s style that can be accomplished. It's a rather delightful inclusion.

The disc then closes with a couple of galleries, both self-playing, the first focusing on promotional material Fitzjohn was able to round up from all over the world, including the Cannes booklet. It also features a lobby card showcasing a scene cut from the film. As we learn through the features, the original version shown at Cannes was longer and featured a more extended subplot involving Julia’s husband (Dullea). After the Cannes showing, it was decided to trim the film and do reshoots to do away with it. Unfortunately, all that material is long gone, with this photo remaining. That photo can also be found in the other gallery, which features production photos on top of promotional material, all presented in 4K resolution.

BFI also includes a booklet. It ends up being one of their shorter ones at 25 pages, though it does feature a loving tribute by the film’s number-one fan, Simon Fitzjohn, followed by a profile on Loncraine written by Dr. Josephine Botting. Loncraine also provides a short introduction showing his appreciation that some people enjoy the film. The booklet then closes with notes on the features and the restoration.

All around, they’ve put together a solid set of features that, at least in some small way, may lead one to appreciate the film a little more, flaws and all.


Audio issues aside, the film receives a stunner of a presentation with a superb set of features. It’s a super-easy recommendation.

BUY AT: Amazon.co.uk

Directed by: Richard Loncraine
Year: 1977
Time: 98 min.
Series: BFI Flipside
Edition #: 46
Release Date: April 24 2023
MSRP: £29.99
4K UHD Blu-ray/Blu-ray
2 Discs | BD-50/UHD-100
2.35:1 ratio
English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions B/None
HDR: HDR10Dolby Vision
 Newly recorded introduction by director Richard Loncraine (2023)   Newly recorded audio commentary with director Richard Loncraine and film historian Simon Fitzjohn   A Holland Park Haunting (2023, 24 mins): a newly recorded interview with Richard Loncraine   What’s That Noise? (2023, 25 mins): a newly recorded interview with composer Colin Towns   Coming Full Circle (2023, 11 mins): actor Tom Conti recalls his humble horror beginnings   The Fear of Growing Up (2023, 10 mins): Samantha Gates revisits her work as a child actor in Full Circle   A Haunting Retrospective (2023, 25 mins): a new video essay by author and critic Kim Newman   Park Life (2023, 16 mins): film historian and self-confessed Full Circle ‘anorak’ Simon Fitzjohn takes a windswept, rain-spattered trek across London in search of key locations from the film   Joining The Circle (2015, 7 mins): archival interview with associate producer Hugh Harlow   Images of a Haunting (2023): a selection of rare materials related to the film and collected over many years are presented along with an audio commentary by their owner Simon Fitzjohn   Gallery – a collection of stills held by the BFI National Archive   Illustrated booklet featuring an introduction by Richard Loncraine, plus new writing on the film by Simon Fitzjohn and on Richard Loncraine by the BFI’s Dr Josephine Botting