I HAD to check a few times on Netflix, but yes it’s there. In its opening credits, David Mackenzie’s fascinating film about the degradation and redemption of Robert the Bruce spells its title precisely this way: Outlaw/King.

To my mind, that slash (and yes, there are many other forms of slashing in this gorefest) makes intellectually explicit what is the movie’s implicit theme.

If you are a national community residing within a bigger polity, to what extent should its leaders seek progress (or even maintenance) within the rules – or by challenging the rules themselves? Are you king or Outlaw? Or does that slash indicate how one stance might modulate back and forth with the other, according to circumstances?

And its contemporary relevance? I don’t have to hit you about the head with a bloody escutcheon to make it obvious. But it’s right here and right before us.

Should the SNP government take the “kingly” position on Brexit? That is, petitioning their masters (ones that the majority of the population legally voted in 2014 to stick with), seeking to point our their inconsistencies and hypocrisies? Should they steadily ask for just treatment (like, say, a differentiated trade and customs deal), shaming Westminster’s unfairness before the people?

Or should they take the “outlaw” road? By which of course I don’t mean fiery raids on Tesco stores with Union Jack labels on their vegan haggis, but courses of action which foment a popular Scottish discontent with the legitimacy of Westminster rule.

These days, of course, there are a variety of democratic, modern and non-gory means to pursue this. A majority of indy-supporting reps in London; a consistent lead in opinion polling; self-organised referenda; building indy-ready institutions.

But there is a clear line in Outlaw/King, uttered after the Bruce is ambushed at Methven, which I predict will be leaping into current political discourse: “No more chivalry.”

Chivalric is not a bad way of describing the patient sensibleness and rationality of the SNP’s Brexit proposals to the UK Government. Each fulsome policy PDF has been ignored by the leading Westminster politicians, or suborned by Supreme Court decisions. It’s all summed up by Theresa May’s curt one-liner, responding to complaints that Scotland isn’t mentioned in the Brexit draft deal. “Because Scotland chose to be part of the United Kingdom!”

May is actually calling out the subtlety implied by the full conjunction of the “outlaw/king” position – which some might say was the operating principle of the official independence movement and parties for the past 30 years.

That is, you use the threat of indy, and all its radical consequences for the current British order, to achieve gains and powers within the system. Yet after 2014’s result, it’s clear that the British establishment feels that the powers of Scotland-as-outlaw has thoroughly diminished.

So, “no more chivalry” in the current context may mean picking up some neglected constitutional and institutional tools. But the second half of the chivalry line – “now we fight like wolves!” – is where the inspiration from mediaeval games-with-thrones, to the brushed-wood environs of modern politics on these islands, resolutely ends.

An excellent tweeter in my feeds, @southsidegrrrl, made me laugh out loud – in sympathy – with her Outlaw/King review. “Honestly, what a ridiculous way men behaved in history, hurting and killing each other over minor disagreements. History is ludicrous.”

She continues: “Wish someone would make a film called ‘The Outlaw Queen’, a psychological thriller about what it’s like to be married as a young girl to a man you don’t know, in a country you don’t know, for strategic purposes. To be chattel. What’s that like? Obviously there would be less slashing and blood and killing in such a film. But it could nonetheless be a really interesting story.”

Well, quite. Even though it’s historically a sequel to Braveheart, director Mackenzie has distanced his movie from Mel Gibson’s epic. Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, he said: “Braveheart was made 20 years ago and had a certain perspective, and if you look at it now, you might be quite worried by some of that blood and soil stuff in this day and age. It’s not something I’m desperately keen to even attempt to try to compare.”

All of which adds up to a hard limit on Outlaw/King’s political relevance, for all Mackenzie’s sophistication as a film-maker. (I did love the bit in the opening sequence when Edward II says: “Let me show you a spectacle,” and cues up his giant, Stirling-Castle-denting fiery catapult. “We’ve been building it for three months, so we have to use it”. Military-media-industrial complex, anyone?)

Probably one of the things we don’t need more of at the moment in the national conversation is unremittingly violent and blood-soaked male agency. We have a First Minister who is an exemplar for soft power, not hard power: She seeks to attract others to Scotland more by the capaciousness of our culture and society, less by banging on angrily about our rights and our deficits.

SHE doesn’t disconnect that from a more feminine and womanly way of handling public affairs, and neither should we. Sturgeon refusing to appear at the BBC Xchange event with Steve Bannon is more than a straightforward moral objection to an outright neo-fascist, denting his credibility and normality.

It’s also an explicit distancing from a certain hyperbolic, aggressive style of arguing, a seeking out of ultimate enemies and demons. This is the mark of the populist demagogue throughout the ages – but it’s being explicitly tied to the term “nationalist” by figures like Bannon, Trump, Putin, Orban and others.

So how do you “fight” for Scottish “freedom”, without the clash of swords, the scream of berserkers, and the spatter of gore – wielded by vein-popping male warriors – distorting your militancy and commitment?

There’s a nice distinction that the Belgian political philosopher Chantal Mouffe uses, between “antagonists” and “agonists”. Simply explained, you want to crush and defeat your antagonist. But if you are both agonists, you accept that you will clash with your opponent – but you also both accept that this clash, respectfully done, is the very sign of a healthy democracy.

Amidst all the juddering war and gore of Outlaw/King, there are enough gestures to the agonistic mode, particularly in Chris Pine’s sensitively paced performance. It hints at a mind trying to figure out how all this slicing and dicing might bring about a peaceful state, both personally and collectively. And what kinds of distorted persons are left at the end of such a process.

It’s just a film, of course (which is why everyone, including the FM, could gladhand at the film premiere last fortnight). But art, if it’s good and complex enough, can help us contemplate both our deepest longings, and the means whereby we might realise them. The slash in Outlaw/King runs right down the middle of most Scots.