A hot summer in a village at the end of nowhere. An archaic community, hardly feeling the new changes. Traditions are still powerful. The most respected one remains the mystical toll of the wedding bell. When the bridal pair comes out of the church, the bell should ring!
Within this small universe at the border of civilization, Ionel loves Ionela and plans their wedding. But another girl’s wooer, mad to lose her, breaks the bell and everything gets messed up.
The village priest draws his conclusion: a wedding without a bell will bring only wicked gossips. Ionel’s refusal is final. He has to keep to traditions will have a new bell. The lad gets advice and help from his uncle Ianăș and Botoș. Botoș is a singer in the church choir; he knows priests all around. The three of them start for Timisoara to get the Bishop’s approval for a new bell. This is the only possible way. Only afterwards they can go to Plumbuita, where the fine bells are moulded.
That ever groggy Botos, his demijohn filled with palinka and a deaf bells moulder speaking in quotations bring colour to the story. After hours spent in a railway wagon, the new bell at their feet, after bargaining with Marinică, the craner, the bell is brought up into the church tower.
The other wooer comes again to spoil everything by blocking the bell with a log. Luckily, Ianăș proves to be the best in clearing up the whole situation.
The Bell is a story about man’s struggle with his destiny. About refusing defeat, about will and tender love, about warm understanding. The classical construction of the narrative has a natural flow in itself, underlining the metaphorical core of the story, incidentally interfering with the confused characters and bringing them on the very brink of a profound emotional status; even the boozer Botoș understands that the dove flew away from the wagon leaving behind the regret of a loss. Experiencing a loss always hurts! It is this sense of loss that brings forth the energy in the film. The symbolically broken bell might spoil the whole event but, instead, it becomes the catalyst intensifying Ionel’s efforts. His struggle is not a futile one. His attachment to traditions is more a recognition of long lasting values and less an obsession. The bell, the church, traditions, these are things so often left to oblivion. But there is nothing else to fill the void left. The new bell stands for these values and the three main characters – Ianăș, Botoș and Ionel – old and new together, start on a rather difficult quest journey. The bell becomes their goal. And what life might be without a goal? The bell in itself is the symbol of a spiritual ascent. Ionel’s refusal to wed without a bell is final. And it cannot be otherwise! It is his dream. We all have our dreams. A life without dreams is nothing else but a spiritual suicide.