I aslo remember reading a lot on the importance of Sjstrm's early work, and some beautiful still images from his films are still in my mind. But damn, I simply don't have enough money to spend it on blind-buy imports. Hope this will change in the future, but the last couple of years haven't brought a money-fountain, as my wallet usually rather resembles a dry well.
As far as Eisenstein is concerned I'm quite "illiterate". Though I've read some of his early writings (quite interesting), besides Potemkin, I've only seen Alexander Nevsky (1936). Not much from his contemporaries either. Entuziazm (1930) by Vertov, Dezertir (1933) by Pudovkin, and Zvenigora (192 , Arsenal (1929) and Zemlya (1930) by Dovzhenko, which I was all extremely lucky to encounter. Judging on these sparse examples of early soviet filmmaking, all I can say for sure is that these four were remarkable filmmakers who seemed interested mostly in the technical possibilities of the filmic image (and later the sound). That's all extremely interesting to me, but unfortunately the propaganda and their differing ideologies (and "manifestos") often stood in the way. I know that form and ideology couldn't be seperated for them and I just can't disregard that. It's like watching Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will... kind of unhealthy trying to seperate the aesthetics from the ideology.
For example Dovzhenko's films have some of the most ravishing visuals I've ever come to encounter on film. They can compare imo with anything that was ever put on film, and i was completely awestruck when I saw them for the first time. Nevertheless in come the unnecessary "storytelling" and the propaganda, and everything becomes some mumbo-jumbo, when you know that it's not the Bolsheviki or some ideology that will bring freedom to the people. What I criticize about Dovzhenko's effort is mostly the opposite from what I've read from most mainstream-critics. it's the fact that he does try to tell a somewhat coherent story, instead of trusting the images to tell of the true nature of life. Imagine Malick trying to combine his films with a praise of the american way-of-life.
Sadly, the best essays I've read on Dovzhenko's films (or on other early soviet productions) ignore these aspects.
Thus soviet filmmakers who made films of comparable truth and beauty, but with a more personal "ideology", like Tarkovski or Paradjanov rank imo far above any of these.
On the other hand, the theoretical writing by Eisenstein and Vertov, as limited by ideology as it often is, is imo much more interesting than anything Tarkovski has ever put on paper.