Also known as The Haunting of Julia, this widely forgotten 1977 ghost story wasn’t released until 1980; I remember seeing a promotional item pictured as an example of the memorabilia/freebies sent to press in the pages of Starburst magazine way back when I was just a nipper. Richard Loncraine’s adaption of Peter Straub’s novel, acclaimed by Stephen King as a genre classic, proved a little too austere for the era of slashers and body horror, but in retrospect, Full Circle has a lot to offer, and inhabits a creepy space somewhere between well-recognised touchstones The Exorcist and in particular, Don’t Look Now.
Mia Farrow returns to the fray with a strong central performance here; the Rosemary’s Baby star plays Julia Lofting, an American housewife living in London who is the inadvertent victim of supernatural forces. In an arresting, deeply shocking opening, Julia is in the kitchen with her husband Magnus (Keir Dullea) when her daughter starts to choke. With few options till emergency services arrive, Julia takes responsibility and tries to save her daughter’s life with a botched emergency tracheotomy which the squeamish viewer will be relived not to see. That subsequent bereavement and separation leaves Julia resetting her life alone in a new house, where a girl seems to be trying to contact her; sensitive to the idea of spirits, Julia arranges a séance to find out who or what is responsible.
Full Circle was seen as predictable fare back in the day, but it really isn’t. Straub takes no prisoners when it comes to providing narrative jolts, and Full Circle goes to some very dark places indeed. Spoiler alert, Julia discovers through her amateur research that she’s being haunted by the malevolent spirit of a girl called Olivia who was killed by her own mother, Greta (Mary Morris). Greta discovered that the murder of a young German boy in England back in the 1930’s wasn’t the work of the hapless vagrant who was executed for the crime, but that Olivia was responsible for leading a gang of local kids to commit the crime. That suggestion of British racism and intolerance in the lead up to WWII is strictly verboten territory, but it’s just one of a number of disturbing narrative beats included here. Loncraine manages to locate the fault line in Julia’s world through her own abrupt experience of death, making her sensitive to the historic wrongs of the encoaching world but also accentuating her own vulnerablity in the face of dark forces.
Aside from a beautiful transfer, there’s all kinds of details here that make this BFI Full Circle package worth your attention; there’s roles for Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and the voice of Wallace (but not Gromit) Peter Sallis, while a young Tom Conti gets an elaborate Final Destination/ Omen-style death scene, electrocuted in his own bath-water; the actor still looks spruce in a fresh intreview amongst the copious extras included here. References to Liberace, the ‘pound dropping’ on the news and suspicions about the potential for ‘Arab money’ taking over the Holland Park property market date Full Circle firmly in the 70’s, while the resistance to Julia as an intruding American is clear; she’s derided as a ‘bloody old witch’ while one of her wary targets murmurs ‘I thought you was social work or summink’ when Julia turns up at her door unannounced. This welcome restoration finally gives Full Circle a place in the pantheon of 70’s horror greats; while not many saw it on initial release, it’s clear that in Julia’s world, to quote from the script, ‘Evil never dies.’
Thanks so much to the BFI for advanced blu-ray access to Full Circle, out April 24 2023.
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Audio commentary by director Richard Loncraine and film historian Simon Fitzjohn
- A Holland Park Haunting (2023, 24 mins): director Richard Loncraine reflects upon his artistic career and the making of Full Circle
- Park Life (2023, 16 mins): Simon Fitzjohn revisits the film’s London locations
- What’s That Noise? (2023, 25 mins): soundtrack composer Colin Towns on one of his earliest film works
- Coming Full Circle (2023, 11 mins): Tom Conti recalls his role
- The Fear of Growing Up (2023, 10 mins): Samantha Gates looks back on the production Joining the Circle (2023, 7 mins): producer Hugh Harlow recalls making the film
- A Haunting Retrospective (2023, 25 mins): film critic Kim Newman revisits Full Circle
- Images of a Haunting (2023, 13 mins): Full Circle aficionado Simon Fitzjohn talks us through his extensive collection of memorabilia
- Rare stills and transparencies from the BFI National Archive’s collections
- ***First pressing only*** illustrated booklet with a new Director’s Statement, an essay by film historian Simon Fitzjohn, a biography of Richard Loncraine by Dr Josephine Bottting; credits and notes on the special features
RRP: £34.99 / Cat. no. BFIU0005 / 15
Canada, UK / 1978 / colour / 97 minutes / English language with optional subtitles for the Deaf and partial hearing original aspect ratio 2.40:1 // Disc 1: UHD100, 2160p, 24fps, LPCM 2.0 mono audio (48kHz/24-bit) / Disc 2: BD50, 1080p, 24fps, LPCM 2.0 mono audio (48kHz/24-bit)
Pre-order FULL CIRCLE from the BFI Shop
BFI Blu-ray/DVD releases can be ordered from home entertainment online retailers or from the BFI Shop at https://shop.bfi.org.uk/
Keir Dullea! Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. In a very long time.
Didn’t you hear it last month when I reviewed him in Black Christmas?
….I sure didn’t. 🙂
Have you reviewed The Fox?
No, but it’s on my list. Would you recommend it?
Dunno…it has been a long time. A very long time. 🙄
As Noel Coward said ‘Keir Dullea, gone tomorrow’
If I was a fan of horror, I’d yep this stat! But I’m not so nope.
Sigh. Not even to see Tom Conti having a bath?
Especially not to see Tom Conti having a bath.
If you don’t want that, what do you want?
It’s more what I don’t want really, and that includes Tom Conti in the bath.
No one should see this image unless they have expressly demonstrated their interest. The audience should self select into those who do and those who don’t. The two circles on a Venn diagram would not intersect.
Is there something about ‘nope’ you failed to comprehend dear boy?
I think today is Obtuse Thursday. I’m thinking of making it a national holiday n then exporting it to you all…
I think Sir Dix has cornered the market on obtuse, and not just on Thursdays.
He’s being a typical cheap Scot. Not only is he using the free beta version but he’s using it on non Thursdays to get all he can from it 🙂
That’s what comes of wearing a kilt I suppose, though the bagpipes don’t help much.
Can’t have it here. We only have two national holidays in Canada: Alex Good Friday and Real Thanksgiving.
Sounds like cause for a Just War. Prepare to be invaded!
You tried that before. Didn’t work out for anyone but Andrew Jackson.
Well, THIS time we’ll go straight for your maple syrup factories and hold them hostage. I predict a national crumbling of the psyche within a week!
Was he one of the Jackson Five?
Don’t you celebrate Bob Clark’s birthday?
Only locally. It’s not one of the biggies.
Can’t say I didn’t try.
When I die, I plan on haunting you. I’ll make your breakfast cereal milk turn super sweet. I’ll make your steaks overdone. I’ll leave your bathroom lights on and drive your electricity bill sky high! Oh the horror! And some things you can’t even imagine….
Comment of the day so far. What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?
Does there NEED to be a reason?
Ok, I’ll give you a reason.
One time you crossed the street without looking both ways. That set off my ghostly rage and thus I’ll punish your breakfast cereal for an eternity….
Ok, that’s fair enough, when can you start?
As soon as I’m dead.
But we gotta define “dead” first.
I could nip over and smother you in Hilary Clinton’s emails if that helps…
But would I be dead? Can you kill me w top secret documents if you’re not authorized to have them?
Only one way to find out…
I’m in the woods in Derry. Feel free to find me, mwahahaha
I’m watching your RIGHT NOW
If you actually were, you’d be screaming in terror at the mind destroying ritual I’ve been performing.
Of course, watching all these movies might have hardened your psyche to a point where nothing could crack that brain.
This brain is not for cracking!
That ritual is cool, though, ten out of ten for a gutsy performance!
Thanks! I thought I really pulled it off.
You handle entrails like a pro.
I am a level 2 certified entrail puller after all. Thinking about going for my level 3s next year…
Go for it! You’ve got the skills for it!
Mad Skillz yo….
always supposing one exists.
I like it 🙂
Funny to watch that trailer and see that this is a 4K UHD restoration. Some movies from the ’70s just don’t look any different no matter how much you clean them up. Will look for this on YouTube.
Yup, there’s a lower res print around that you can get a look at before forking out; I’m a fan of blu-ray, particularly for 70’s films in particular, because the use of natural light improves these films. HD should take us back to what the original print was like, for better or for worse.
Thanks for the typo, very wet here.