THERE has been many an artistic crime perpetrated against the Scottish accent down the years, but only Mel Gibson’s attempt to roll his Rs in Braveheart has had entire millions rolling their eyes. Hanging, drawing and quartering, the fate reserved for William Wallace, is too good for it.

Also to be placed on the charge sheet are numerous offences against historical accuracy, from a Battle of Stirling Bridge without a bridge, to the not yet invented tartan sported by the Caledonian warriors.

But Gibson’s caper won five Oscars, is beloved by many, and brought plane loads of visitors to these lands. Before there was Outlander there was Braveheart. Before Papa Smurf came Mel in his blue face paint.

Why, after all these years, does Gibson’s epic still rankle? There are the purely aesthetic objections, which begin early doors with first sight of young Wallace sporting one of the worst hairstyles known to humanity: a mullet with pigtails.

Mel somehow manages to keep himself out of the first 20 minutes; thereafter there is no escaping him. He’s here, there, everywhere, giving out that pouting, nostrils-flaring, “Blue Steel” look. The Highlander as Zoolander.

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When his first words arrive – “Yee’ve dropped yeer rock,” he tells his old childhood pal, Hamish – it fair makes the heart plummet to think there are a couple more hours of this mince to go.

Wallace’s return reunites him with his childhood sweetheart and love of his life, Murron. They wed in secret to get round the evil English nobles’ insistence on jus primae noctis or “first night” (the existence of which at the time is also disputed by historians), and go on to have a first night of their own. Outdoors. In the buff. In Scotland. Her long hair, his shaggy barnet, every split end picked out by the moonlight. Ugh.

Marron’s lot is typical of women’s fates in the film. Lassies exist to be martyrs, seducers, plotters, bystanders in general. Gay men, in the form of Longshanks’s son, are ridiculed and reviled. It is almost as if the director of this film would one day be exposed for holding eye-wateringly hateful views.

Gibson, though, is a truly gifted filmmaker. His pictures, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto among them, are often outstanding.

Braveheart could have stood with such films, but instead Gibson let his vanity run amok. He indulged himself, and in so doing served up a view of Scottishness that was in its way as absurd as the one offered by Brigadoon. In Mel’s Scotland the English were nasty and irredeemable and the F-word was worth suffering and dying for. Nothing else mattered. Thus grew up a generation of Scots in love with a romantic notion of independence when their cause would have been better served by cold, hard reasoning.

Taking his cue from a famous battlefield scene, Gibson did with Braveheart the cinematic equivalent of lifting his kilt and waving his chauvinism around. The response to which then, as now, is: “Do put it away, dear.”